Is it springtime already? Time flies! This week, we were invited to Knott’s for their preview event for the Boysenberry Festival, finally making its full return for the first time since 2019. It’s been a long few years, with a lot of tasting events in the meantime, but this is the “Big Time” now.
On the way in, we can see the signs are going up, and lots of little touches are being made around the park. New railings have been put in next to the tunnel. Speed bumps have been added.
And, of course, Montezooma’s Revenge is down right now, for a big overhaul that’s light on details right now. So expect that coaster to be on this sign for a while, but it will be worth the wait. I also wouldn’t expect this area to be empty for long. It always seems to be overflowing with plants and berries at every festival. These larger-than-life chefs greeted us when we showed up and assured us we’d find them around during the festival, likely nearby Boysenberry Lane, near Ghostrider. That’s a new area that’s been used off and on during recent seasonal events. This time around, the more popular items are going to be collected over there, to hopefully have a more orderly line for the items, so they don’t end up mixing with ride lines or causing other confusion. But decorations and entertainment only can go so far…
We’re here for the food!
So here are only some of the options that will be available this year. Like the Mini Crab Sushi Roll with Boysenberry Aioli, or the Classic Meatballs with BBQ Sauce and Mashed Potatoes. The Boysenberry Cowboy Chili with Mac & Cheese and Fritos topping was darn good, too. For folks looking for a big surprise, there’s a Boysenberry-filled Donut used for an open-faced fried chicken sandwich, with arugula and bacon jam, that was unique and delightful.Of course, the core of any boysenberry treat is the desserts, which includes a mousse chocolate cake, that’s really rich with a soft core, and a bar of Boysenberry Pie, a way to get a small bit of a staple. My favorite was the rocky road brownie, though. I’m a sucker for marshmallows. Beyond what was readily available for tasting, we also got to see a lot more of what will be around when the full event starts, like the acai berry shake, a sausage trio with a boysenberry polenta, horchata, and a boysenberry corn dog.
Not only will a lot of these items be available on the ever-popular tasting cards, but many will be available to passholders making use of the all-season dining plan. There’s also a more traditional hot dog with a boysenberry bun and the boysenberry mustard, or a giant trough of nachos that is surely too much for one human; but you can feel free to prove us all wrong, if you dare. . But that’s not the only “Challenge” meal out there.
This year’s monster is the “Monster Boysenberry Pulled Pork and Slaw Sandwich”. I’m not sure what to say about this beast, other than the fact that onion rings are used as a garnish on top. This is allegedly a cookie, the “Boy o Boy, Now That’s a Cookie!” has an entire funnel cake right inside it, alongside other sweet treats. If you can’t decide on a dessert, this should encompass it all. The list of food items just goes on and on. Grilled cheese beef dips, cream cheese bites, deconstructed lemonades… Personally, I’m excited to have the mac and cheese wedges with the boysenberry sriracha ketchup. I’m happy to see them return. There’s also a funnel cake with cheesecake bits, a monkey-bread take on the fun bun, and the cookiewich is now soft-serve. That’s a big deal, because in previous years, the cookiewich used hard-pack ice cream, and it was a bit of a tough munch early in the day. This should be even easier to devour. The merchandise is also refreshed this year. There’s a really nice zip-up fleece jacket that’s also available in the familiar purple color, too. Continuing with the creativity required last year due to the smaller boysenberry yields, they’ve mixed up some new Berry Market flavors, like boysenberry bacon. If you can’t make it to the park, or just want to get it all in one shot, there’s also the festival in a box, only available online. It also includes recipe cards making use of the products inside. And alongside the Boysenberry BBQ, you can now find Boysenberry Ketchup AND a balsamic glaze. While Knott’s already had boysenberry coffee, you can find two new flavors of it with hazelnut and creme brulee. And we’d be remiss to mention that not only has Whittles returned from his 100th anniversary reintroduction, but he’s gotten into the food and didn’t even have time to clean himself up! If you manage to get a photo with him, make sure to ask him what he enjoyed most. Outside of the festival, more work is going on into the future pizza and brewery location at the end of Memory Lane. You can even find more of the new trash can designs, featuring a food waste and recycling bin, all themed with the lands. It’s still due to open by this summer, where I’m sure it’ll be a hit.
And remember, this is only a preview. We still have yet to see the craft booths, the entertainment, including the new melodrama in the Bird Cage theater, and so much more!
The Boysenberry Festival is included with admission to Knott’s Berry Farm and runs daily from March 18th through April 24th. Tickets are on sale now at Knotts.com.