Every year on the third weekend in May, the town of Oxnard celebrates its agricultural bounty at the two-day California Strawberry Festival. They have good reason to celebrate: this coastal community 60 miles north-west of Los Angeles is one of California’s biggest strawberry-growing regions, producing 36 million punnets of the ruby-red fruit annually, according to the California Strawberry Commission. The weekend at Oxnard College Park brings in about 200 artists, 50 food vendors and dozens of entertainers.
It's no surprise that this translates into a lot of berry-eating: a whopping 1.5 million strawberries are consumed over the two days here. Expect plenty of strawberry margaritas and chocolate-dipped strawberries, as well as more creative ideas such as strawberry tamales, strawberry beer, strawberry nachos, strawberry pizza and deep-fried strawberries on a stick. Traditionalists can build their own strawberry shortcakes with a variety of toppings, while hardy strawberry fans can enter the strawberry-pie-eating contest (no utensils allowed—your mouth does all the work).
Once your lips are stained brilliantly red, wander beyond the food stalls. Among the buzz of cooking demonstrations, live concerts on three stages, children's carnival rides, magic shows and face-painting, don’t miss a few key events, like the Berry Best Dressed Baby Contest. Adorable toddlers dressed up as strawberries parade across the festival stage. There’s also a Berry Best Hat Contest—roughly the same concept, but for adults.
All this revelry supports good causes, too, with festival proceeds benefiting charities in Oxnard. To avoid the festival entrance queues, purchase your tickets online, and make parking easy by catching the free shuttle bus that departs from several locations near Highway 101 in Oxnard.