If it’s Spring, it must mean it’s time for the Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm. What started out as a more open-ended “Berry Bloom” celebration, has quickly become an annual tradition that gets us all-too excited for what’s in store.
The core part of the Boysenberry Festival is the focus on the eponymous fruit. While most theme parks try to theme their food events to a celebration of different cultures, Knott’s inverts that and challenges themselves to come up with as many different foods they can infuse with boysenberries as possible. Now in it’s 6th year, they’re still mixing it up.
If you haven’t grown up in Southern California, you may not understand how much the boysenberry is ingrained in Knott’s history. Suffice to say, they are the creator of it. Every strain can be traced back to the farm. So this is more than just a themed event, but it’s a part of Knott’s own history.
The recommended way to indulge in the event is with their tasting card. For just $35, you get a card that’s valid for the entire event until April 28th, and lets you try any 8 of the 14 samplings that are scattered around Ghost Town. This includes a ridiculous variety of offerings.Unlike some other food festivals at southern California-based theme parks, the tasting card is a great deal no matter how you break it up. You don’t need to worry about min-maxing it to get the best value. The selections include:
* Boysenberry BBQ Chicken Skewers with a Boysenberry Aioli
* Boysenberry and Lemon Hummus
* Boysenberry Dry Rubbed Flank Steak with a Boysenberry Cream Cheese topping
* Boysenberry Elote
* Boysenberry Sausage on a Bun
* Boysenberry Homemade Chili in a Boysenberry Sourdough Bread Bowl
* Boysenberry Pot Roast over Boysenberry Mashed Potatoes
* Boysenberry Glazed Salmon over Mixed Greens and topped with a Boysenberry Vinaigrette
* Boysenberry Jerk Chicken Wings
* Boysenberry Cinnamon Sugar Flour Tortilla Chips with Boysenberry Ice Cream
* Boysenberry Waffle with a Maple Boysenberry Cream Cheese Syrup
* Boysenberry Habanero Baked Mac and Cheese
* Boysenberry Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage
* Boysenberry Pulled Pork Tostada
We made our way through about half of this list on our first day and had no complaints aside from trying to track down a few of the more out-of-the-way locations. Pay attention to the actual descriptions and you’ll notice it’s more than just pouring colored sugar over an established meal. It’s a boysenberry waffle with boysenberry syrup.
Additionally, the boysenberry chili bowl had boysenberries mixed into the sourdough bread, too. It had a purple hazy coloring to it. So it’s not just a topping, but all the food has been infused with boysenberries. Well, aside from the meat. I’m not sure it’s possible to breed salmon with a boysenberry, yet. But if anyone is going to figure out how to do it, I’d place my bet on Knott’s.
This also isn’t the entire extent of the offerings, either. All around the park are more offerings not offered on the sampling card. There’s boysenberry bbq pizza, boysenberry dole whips and more.
Beyond the berry, there’s a lot more other offerings going on. Inside the Wilderness Dance Hall is a wine tasting, featuring a wide selection of wines and craft beers, and an art show showcasing the long history of Knott’s Berry Farm, titled “Tied Up In Knott’s.” Knott’s has been doing these art shows more frequently for events over the last few years, including during Scary Farm, and it’s been appreciated. We wish it had a permanent spot in the park year round now that the demand for it has been established.
And there’s a lot of vendor booths setup all around Ghost Town, too, selling handmade wares.
Outside of the dance hall, there’s some new creatures in the barn.
There’s also the melodrama going on inside the Birdcage Theater, featuring a story focused around the familiar berry.
But not to worry, Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies have been relocated to the Wagon Camp for their nightly shows. And in case you weren’t entirely versed on the history of the boysenberry, inside Ghost Town Town Hall, you can watch a looping 15 minute video that covers the creation of the berry and the impact it had on the park to this day.
Plus in Calico Park, you’ll likely find Deputy Mayor Milton C. Howell, hosting a bunch of games throughout the day, culminating in the boysenberry pie eating contest. These are open for any guests to participate in and are great and goofy fun.
As the sun sets, there’s also bands around the park, and the big Snoopy show on the Calico Main Stage, along with a cute little space-themed show in Camp Snoopy.
It also wouldn’t be a festival without merchandise opportunities, so the offerings in that regard have been kicked up to 11. Every store around the park is stocked with a ton of goodies to take home.
Overall, the Boysenberry Festival is a ton of fun. There’s food, drinks, music, art, and more. It’s always fun. Knott’s hits it out of the park every year for this event, and this year is no different. They even managed to get some influence outside of the park this year, partnering with Yogurtland for a Boysenberry Pie themed yogurt at their stores.
Knott’s could have easily have phoned this event in. During the spring break season, they just need to bump up their hours and provide a few excuses to keep people in the park longer. But that’s not what they do. The tasting card is entirely different from the previous years. And all the food is great. The art show is all new with some pieces that I’m really tempted to get prints of. They challenge themselves to improve and it shows.
It’s also hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago was the Peanuts Celebration, and when this wraps up on April 28th, we’ll be welcoming back the citizens of Calico on Founder’s Day in Ghost Town Alive not long after. While there’s always something happening in the park, all of these events are distinct from each other, and you’d be remiss to ignore this festival. The Knott’s Berry Farm Boysenberry Festival runs from March 30th through April 28th. Tickets and season passes for Knott’s are available from their website. Keep an eye out for the Easter Beagle!
Oh, and we’re also really close to the opening of the new Calico River Rapids ride. It’s going to be a welcome addition for the summertime with all the love that’s going into replacing Bigfoot Rapids. Given the hints around the park of Bigfoot, they don’t seem to be evicting the cryptid anytime soon, though, thankfully.