Only in California, perhaps, can you combine a foodie festival with abundant chances to go on a log ride. At Knott’s Berry Farm, in Orange County’s Buena Park, this year’s Boysenberry Festival kicked off March 16 and will last until April 8. For anyone with a curiosity about the boysenberry—or anyone who loves jam and pie—the festival is a must-do.
Here’s how it works: You come to the theme park and buy your tasting card ($30) with eight detachable tickets, to be used at tasting booths scattered around the park’s bustling Ghost Town area. At each stop you get a little plate of boysenberry-inspired goodies, from the boysenberry-BBQ-glazed chicken wings to cheese-filled pierogies with boysenberry sour cream, boysenberry macaroons, or boysenberry Mexican-corn elote. Insider tip: Don’t miss the purple-tortilla boysenberry quesadillas, filled with mozzarella and cotija and accented by a kicky boysenberry-and-onion salsa.
To enhance your experience, add a wine or beer card, and take notes on your up-to-six tastes of mostly California-grown adult beverages in the wine and beer tasting garden, including a sweet-but-not-too-sweet boysenberry wine. You can also buy some festival treats a la carte, like the boysenberry-braised short rib on rice, boysenberry boba tea, or a chocolate-dipped boysenberry cheesecake on a stick.
The annual festival offers a nice refresher on the theme park’s humble origins. Walter Knott started growing the purple hybrid berry (part loganberry, red raspberry, and blackberry) during the 1920s after a guy by the name of Boysen developed it but decided not to farm it. The actual theme park grew out of an Old West attraction that the Knott family built in 1940 to give customers something to do while they waited for a seat at the farm stand’s restaurant, known for its fried chicken and boysenberry pie.
Of course, you can come to Knott’s Berry Farm year round to partake of the berry in pie, cookies, jams, and even a mauve-colored ICEE. But the festival kicks boysenberry love into high gear: Pick up a potted boysenberry plant to take home and start your own crop, don one of the festival’s purple “I’m Just Here for the Food” Snoopy t-shirts, or catch one of the boysenberry-infused live shows. The current production at the Bird Cage Theater (one of the park’s original buildings, also notable for launching the career of Orange County native Steve Martin) features an Old-West story of good-versus-evil, which revolves around berry fields and a hotly pursued pie recipe.