The best way to describe this event is a homecoming. It’s a time of nostalgia and a gathering of people in a place that has history and means something to many. That’s how I would describe the Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm.
The Boysenberry Festival is in commemoration of Walter Knott’s cultivation of the boysenberry. Walter Knott’s harvesting the berry eventually led to the founding of Knott’s Berry Farm as a theme park. Though the original farm is now gone, the theme park pays tribute to the original land use and the family that started it all.
So, this festival is really the bringing together history and modern fanfare to have a great Spring party!
Knott’s Boysenberry Festival was something that I have not seen before at the park. All of it had touches and hints of the famed berry, either through color tint or decoration. And there was a plethora of entertainment throughout. One of the exclusive for the festival was Lucy’s Really Big Spring Show. Found in the Camp Snoopy Theater the show features Lucy, Charlie Brown, Linus and friend as they talk about what to do in springtime.
Another great show featuring the Peanuts characters was the Peanuts Party in the Park. Dancers sing to popular tunes as Charlie, Linus, and Lucy bring kids from the crowd around the Boardwalk Circle where they can dance along to the songs. It was a very energetic show with some great performers and songs! It was fun to have the Peanuts characters involved in such a show too. I saw a lot of kids really enjoy it.
Over at the Birdcage Theater there were periodic shows…if you can call them that…which fit a lot of the berry themed atmosphere. Each half hour had something different to bring in front of the great theater. A couple of the ones I caught involved boysenberry pies…one figuratively and one with real pies. The figurative was a pie walk where kids were able to go around numbered pie circles on the ground to music. Think musical chairs but pie themed. The real pies were used in a pie eating contest. Though the real task was to get a whole pie out of a pie tin in a few seconds. The eating came in only if the kid used his or her mouth and got some in it.
Some of the other shows in front of the Birdcage had shootouts and comedy or bluegrass bands. I loved the use of the area to have some fun performances throughout the day. It kept things lively back in Ghost Town and I saw it draw a crowd every time.
Of course in the Birdcage at night there is the famed Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies. They are the same troupe that went by Billy Hill and the Hillbillys over at Disneyland. It’s always a treat to hear the group.
At night, two dance parties erupted to DJ’s. One was in Fiesta Plaza and had line dancing and salsa dancing. The other was at the Boardwalk Circle and was called Jammin’ in the Dark. Utilizing dancers around the circle, DJ Howly brought great music for the crowd to have fun with. Dancers went around the circle as well as interacted with the audience for the big club atmosphere. It took a little time for the crowd to get into it, but once they did people were having a lot of fun.
The big event within the event was the epic Boysenberry Pie Eating Championship. This contest was the first of its kind, and sanctioned by the Major League Eating organization. Competitors had to eat as many pies as they could in 8 minutes. There were several eaters that wanted a taste of the glory and prize, but there was one that was acclaimed. Joey Chestnut, a record breaker was amongst the competitors. He has held many first places in different food competitions. He was looking to be the first one to eat the most pies. And….he did it!
The competition was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. You would think people would just cram their face…which they sort of did…but everyone had their own style. It was a very unique event, and made this start of the festival that much more amazing. I hope they have it return each year to kick off the Boysenberry Festival.
What makes this a boysenberry festival is the berry itself. So, how do you incorporate the boysenberry throughout the park in the best way? With food! Special treats were found throughout Knott’s for this springtime festival.
Those of us covering the opening day were treated to select items to taste. Among them were fried alligator with boysenberry aioli, boysenberry bbq sauced chicken wings, stuffed boysenberry churro (well, I could’ve gotten a different stuffing, but why break the streak), boysenberry dessert flautas, boysenberry Icee float (which had boysenberry soft serve), and a boysenberry trifle. First, you’re probably thinking: “Alligator? Really?” Yes, really. I’ve had alligator sausage prior to this, and got excited when I saw they were offering something similar. It was about 3 nuggets served atop fries in a cardboard cone. The aioli was a nice touch, but not as strong a boysenberry taste as I thought.
Really every food item was very delicious. It’s hard to say which is my favorite. The bbq wings had a nice sweet and tangy flavor to them. I could taste the boysenberry, but it was in a nice balance to the bbq sauce. The stuffed churro made for a nice sweet snack. The flautas were my first course of dessert at the end of the day and were amazing! It was not so fried as to be greasy, but had a great crispy outside with the delicious boysenberry filling inside. After this I had the Icee float which was one of the best float type item I’ve ever had. The berry gave a nice tangy flavor to a usually sweet dessert drink. Finally, the trifle was the best choice to save as the last. It was exquisite! Cake…good. Soft serve…great. Whip cream…yes please! Topped with cold boysenberries? Oh man! This was something I can have almost everyday!
Besides these delectable items, the Wilderness Dance Hall was transformed into a wine tasting room with some beer selections on the side of the barn. California wines were on the menu, and for a price you can select 6 to try. I tried a sangria and a sparkling wine that were very nice, and especially for not being a wine fan. The beer selections were themed more to boysenberry than the wines, but a stout and an IPA did not fit that mold. I tried the berry selections, which were very nicely balanced drinks with the hoppy flavor and a hint of boysenberry. One was just called Boysenberry Beer. The other was Ace Berry, which was more of a cider.
In all, this was one of the best events I’ve ever been to at Knott’s! As great as Knott’s Scary Farm is, I’m more of a fan of the history of the park and original farm. To have something that pays homage to an era gone by was wonderful. The boysenberry is one of the few berries that I like. I use it as jam at home. I sometimes go to Knott’s just for the boysenberry punch. Having cuisine centered around this sweet hybrid fruit was music to my mouth…or however that works. I wish I had a bigger stomach to sample some of the other food offerings. I saw a stand with hot dogs with boysenberry relish. I saw the exclusive Fun Bun with a boysenberry top to it. Funnel cakes with boysenberry were had by many guests. My stomach could have exploded if I didn’t let reason sink in.
Another thing I liked about this festival was the atmosphere of entertainment. I only went on 3 attractions the whole day, but still felt like I had a full experience because of how much there was to watch. Between the shows with Peanuts characters and the Birdcage Theater offerings a day could be filled just watching these offerings. And the dance parties with very different themes help create a nightlife that I don’t see often at the park. It’s something I hope catches on.
Finally, what makes the park enjoyable is how much character it has. Knott’s is building back up to what it once was with Ghost Town feeling like an old country town, and Boardwalk becoming a party place. Camp Snoopy has great kids offerings now, and I love how much of Snoopy there is over there. The park is growing and adding to what it has always had. And there are great employees that are friendly and courteous which makes it such a great experience.
I am going back to the Boysenberry Festival, hopefully even within these next two weeks. And, I highly suggest catching it within this time too. It’s here and gone so fast! I really want them to extend the festivities next time! I would go almost every night just to eat the food!