The mild coastal climate of California offers an ideal growing environment for several varieties of strawberry plants. For generations, the sweet red fruit has provided a reliable source of income for the agricultural communities in California. Up and down the coast, fields of strawberries are planted in late winter and ripen to a brilliant red in May. The successful growth of this popular colorful fruit gives a reason to celebrate and every year dozens of Strawberry Festivals take place in California towns.
Garden Grove Strawberry Festival
Located in Orange County, California the city of Garden Grove was once surrounded by fields of strawberries. Today, a few acres remain undeveloped and are prime locations for growing the fruit. To celebrate the strawberry heritage, the 51st annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival will be held on Memorial Day weekend. Beginning on Friday, May 22 a strawberry shortcake cutting ceremony offers free tastes for all who attend and carnival rides for the kids. Saturday, May 23 starts with a parade and all day music events. The celebrations continue on Sunday, May 24 and Monday, May 25 with games, food booths, a redhead contest and plenty of fresh strawberry shortcake for sale.
Oxnard Strawberry Festival
The cool coastal region of Oxnard, California (located about two hours north of Los Angeles), creates a prime environment to produce an abundance of berries throughout the spring and summer months. Fields of strawberry plants line Highway 101 on the route to the Central Coast region of California. On the weekend of May 16 and 17 the city of Oxnard draws hundreds of visitors at the Strawberry Meadows festival grounds. A strawberry promenade features planting tips, recipes and cooking demonstrations using the berry in creative new ways. Arts and crafts exhibits and music venues including country, Zydeco, R&B and more provide entertainment throughout the weekend.
Arroyo Grande Strawberry Festival
In the normally quiet small town of Arroyo Grande, located about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, an annual Memorial Day Strawberry Festival brings thousands of visitors to the area. The historic 1860’s era buildings along downtown’s Branch St. decorate their shop windows with strawberries and the street is closed to all traffic during the festival hours. Dozens of booths offer handmade arts and crafts, music venues from local rock bands to Japanese drummers perform during the festival events on Friday through Sunday. Strawberry treats including daiquiris, milkshakes and shortcake are for sale as well as baskets of the freshly picked fruit. The region surrounding Arroyo Grande including Santa Maria (in Santa Barbara County) produces top quality strawberries that are sold locally and picked only when ripe.
Not all strawberries are equal in taste and quality. Some varieties are grown to be shipped to other regions and may not have the fully red color and sweetness of truly ripe berries. In May, the California strawberry season peaks in many areas and it is the time when the ripest fruit can be found. Strawberry Festivals offer a chance to taste samples of local produce, enjoy music and carnival rides and to join in the celebration of a California heritage crop.