The 28th annual Oxnard Strawberry Festival took place this weekend at Strawberry Meadows of College Park to celebrate the region’s agricultural industry and raise money for local charities.
The two-day event ran from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday and featured several musical performances on two stages, arts and crafts, children’s entertainment and over 40 food booths offering various recipes created from the juicy fruit. All proceeds were donated to local charities — over $3 million since 1984 — and additional funds are distributed back into the community through college grants and scholarships for local workers’ children.
According to 10-year-old Jasmine Ramirez, the fair offered attendees a wide array of dishes including strawberry kebabs, pizza and nachos.
“I think everybody wants to eat a lot of the strawberries here — they are my favorite thing,” Ramirez said. “Oh, and everyone wants to ride the Strawberry Spinner ride, but maybe before you eat all the strawberries.”
The Festival originated at the Channel Island Harbor before being relocated to its current venue in 1992 due to growing numbers of attendees. This year, the festival boasted a 3-D “Life of a Strawberry” exhibit, bungee-jumping and a Strawberry Promenade showcasing culinary and visual arts demonstrations.
Eight-year-old Jonathon Brink said the festival combined delicious food and entertainment to cater to all participants’ tastes.
“I’m eating lots of strawberries all day because they are the best and I’m getting my face painted with a tiger eating a strawberry,” Brink said. “I love this day.”
People crowded on hay bales and watched several well-known local bands play during the event. Festival attendee Tom Hartsmith said the music and food made the celebration a sweet experience.
“We came to see the group Bella Donna who we have watched in Thousand Oaks a lot. They are great,” Hartsmith said. “It does not get better than watching one of your favorite bands play while eating some strawberry shortcake.”
Ventura County — known as California’s Strawberry Coast — features over 11,500 acres of strawberry crops and produces 27 percent of the state’s supply. The farmers harvest 207,646 tons of strawberries a year, yielding a profit of over $300 million annually.
Festival attendee Gabriel Alonso said he hoped similar future events would pay greater tribute to the workers responsible for harvesting the fruit.
“It would be nice to have more recognition for the people who pick the berries and make the festival possible, like maybe having an hour of Spanish music at the festival so Mexican workers can feel represented in all of this,” Alonso said. “Still, it’s a great time and I enjoy it every year.”