Oxnard’s coastal vistas, community events, and vibrant downtown area make it the perfect destination for a relaxing Southern California vacation. It’s ideal for those seeking outdoor adventure with the Channel Islands National Park located only 11 miles off-shore. The city also lays claim to some of the finest beaches in California -- pristine, secluded, and offering breathtaking views of the sunset.
The California Strawberry Festival has been a community staple, attracting tens of thousands of attendees to the area over the past three decades. This year’s event will take place May 20-21, at Strawberry Meadows of College Park, which is about two miles southeast of Downtown Oxnard. The event is ideal for all ages, and one of the largest family-friendly events in California. Attendees will encounter a spectrum of strawberry flavored foods, more than 200 art and craft vendors, games and activities for all ages, and more. Live entertainment will include a variety of local and national music acts and celebrity chef cooking demonstrations. From fried strawberries to a best-dressed baby contest, the event has something for everyone. The festival has donated more than $4.5 million to a variety of charities, and more than 1,000 residents will be volunteering their time at the event. We got the chance to interview Lisa Carey, a representative of the event, to learn more about this unique celebration.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
LC: This is our 34th annual celebration.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
LC: Last year’s attendance was over 60,000 for the weekend, and we have expanded the festival grounds by 50% for 2017.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
LC: Everyone is welcome, and there is something for all ages!
RAL: What makes this event unique?
LC: It’s a wholesome gathering with great food, activities, and opportunities for engagement. We offer a total experience with contests, cooking demonstrations, live concerts, and fine arts and crafts.
RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.
LC: This is just a sample of what patrons will find at the event:
Pie Eating Contest
Strawberry Relay Contest
Spin to Win
Berry Best Dresses Baby Contest
Berry Best Hat Contest
Berry Blast Off Recipe Contest Finals
Berry Smackdown Cooking Challenges Between Celebrity Chefs
Rides and Attractions for Kids in Strawberryland
Concerts on Two Stages and Separate Kids Theatre with Performances
Over 200 Fine Art & Craft Booths and More than 50 Food Booths with All Things Berry
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
LC: There are two food courts with over 50 booths of all things berry. Best of all, the non-profit groups that participate garner 100% of their sales proceeds directly to their various organizations (20+ groups). So when patrons are eating their favorite dishes, they are doing their part to help others in the community. Favorite dishes include strawberry funnel cake, strawberry nachos, strawberry tamales, fried strawberries, strawberry pizza, strawberry beer, margaritas, and smoothies.
RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?
LC: They can visit our website and click on “getting here” and scroll to “lodging.” We also offer information on nearby mobile parks in case patrons are looking for that kind of adventure.
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
LC: More than $4.5 million has been raised for more than 30 non-profit groups throughout the Southland, since the event's inception. It began as a way to pay tribute to the region's rich agricultural industry and the country’s most prolific crop. Additional funds raised help pay for scholarships to youth whose parents work in the fields.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
LC: A study by the Internal Festival & Events Association found that the event bolsters the local economy by $7.5 million in one weekend.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
LC: Where else can you get a strawberry tart thrown at your face, guzzle a strawberry beer alongside a strawberry pizza, watch live cooking challenges, and dance to live music? All of this while knowing that just by showing up, you are an immediate contributor to helping raise money for local charities. It’s a very cool experience.
For more information about the California Strawberry Festival, please visit the event website.