Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA
We have firmly arrived in spring, which means renewal and growth and revitalization. In the theme park world, that means moving past the winter holidays into a new cycle of seasonal events. Over the past few years, that has meant an ever-proliferating trend of culinary festivals to dazzle the taste buds.
When it comes to Knott’s Berry Farm, this pattern is no exception, and for the past several years, springtime has been the park’s time to celebrate the fruit that started it all and launched Knott’s Berry Farm into fame. The Boysenberry highlights Charles Boysen’s famous creation that was picked up by Walter Knott and marketed into historic fame. With food stands, merchandise and craft booths, a bevvy of entertainment options, and a delightful atmosphere, Knott’s Boysenberry Festival has become a can’t miss event! This year, the festival runs through Sunday, April 28th. Lets take a look at how this fantastic promotion is this year!
Knott’s has settled into a pretty nice pattern of berry themed furnishings and floral arrangements throughout the park, and the results are sparkling! The park has a wonderful air of nature to it, clothed in blooms that reflect Southern California’s wildflower blossoms. Ghost Town is the primary focus of the Boysenberry Festival theming, with berries and flowers and vines prominently interwoven through the area theming, but boynseberry-related elements can be found in the Boardwalk and even a little in Camp Snoopy and Fiesta Village as well. It all provides a verdant dress-up for America’s first theme park!
The Boysenberry Festival returns several familiar attractions for park guests. The Tied Up in Knott’s art exhibition returns to the Wilderness Dance Far, near the former Bigfoot Rapids attraction. Artwork by multiple talented artists associated with the park in some capacity is on display and for sale, and as we mentioned in our Tasting Event preview, the pieces are truly impressive!
In addition, Calico’s Town Hall once again hosts the History of the Boysenberry documentary, along with another short film that details Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant in its early days. Old Macdonald’s Farm is also open daily until the late afternoon, offering petting zoo experiences with horses, a donkey, and goats! Besides that, there are also several competition events for kids over at Calico Park, where guests might spot a certain Deputy Mayor of Calico serving as judge for the games!
Boysenberry Crafts Fair
Like many of Knott’s festival events, there’s a crafts fair set up throughout Ghost Town featuring local artisans and vendors selling their often-homemade goods. From soaps to sauces to knit goods to art pieces, there’s a lot to check out, and this mom-and-pop connection pays suitable tribute to the park’s own family-run history. It’s always great to see.
Of course, there’s plenty of official park merchandise for the Boysenberry Festival too. Anything to satisfy your boysenberry itch! From jerky to soda to coffee to pie crumble mix to cookies and snacks and glasses and shirts and sauces and plushes and more, stores throughout the park have some great things to offer. Here’s a glance through some of the products on sale!
Of course, similar to DCA’s Food & Wine Festival, the highlight of the Boysenberry Festival is the food. It’s also the feature that actually has new additions this year, as most of the attractions and entertainment has settled into a familiar patter. It starts even outside the park, where the Starbucks in the California Marketplace is selling a Boysenberry Frappucino—and is the only location doing so!
Inside the park, guests can once again purchase a tasting card for $35 that provides access to 8 food items to choose from 14 stands. The tasting card can be used on multiple visits for season passholders or returning visitors, but it is limited to the items listed on the card. Fortunately, these are generally pretty scrumptious! After sampling a fair around of food this past Sunday and taking them into consideration with our Tasting Event experience a few weeks ago, our top 3 Tasting Card food items are:
Boysenberry Sausage on a Bun
Boysenberry Pot Roast over Boysenberry Mashed Potatoes
Boysenberry Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage
These three had consistent flavor and also seemed to suffer the least from the hit-or-miss quality of getting an order freshly made or sitting under a heat lamp for several minutes. I personally also enjoyed the Boysenberry Glazed Salmon over Mixed greens, though the vinaigrette dressing from the Tasting Event had been replaced with a cream-based version this time. The Boysenberry Chili was also good, but quite carb heavy, as those bread bowl dishes never seem to have quite enough soup in them (especially these mini-bread bowls!
On the other hand, we found the Boysenberry Habenero Mac ‘n’ Cheese to be very disappointing on account of being too try and apparently sitting for a bit of time. It had been moderately enjoyable previously, but this seems to be the item that suffers most from the quality swing depending on how freshly made it is when one orders. We also felt that this could have been more consistently creamy if the dish had been made en masse, rather than each one baked in its own smaller tin tray, which made the dish more conducive to drying out.
The Boysenberry Waffle was also a bit disappointing, mostly in texture (it felt more like a muffin than a waffle). And though the Boysenberry Cinnamon Sugar Flour Tortilla Strips with Boysenberry Ice Cream won the “worst plating” award, it was actually a pretty nice treat. Note that it’s soft serve, not ice cream, though.
Our only other critique was that the Tasting Card dishes could have been better spread throughout the park to encourage more traffic outside of Ghost Town. As it was, Ghost Town was definitely the most crowded part of the park. And though there are Boysenberry-affiliated dishes in other lands as well, they aren’t items available on the Tasting Card. The Boysenberry Pulled Pork Tostada and Boysenberry Elote could have been featured in Fiesta Village, for example. The Boysenberry Waffle and Cinnamon Sugar Chips with Ice Cream feel like beachside amusement park fare and would have been much at home in the Boardwalk. The Salmon could have also been there as well, utilizing the seaside association. Move a few of the barbecue items to Camp Snoopy—the skewers, for example—and the Tasting Card selection would have balanced more throughout the park.
It’s a minor quibble, though, as this is still a good value. And even if guests buy the food items ala carte, their $5-$6 pricing per dish is quite reasonable, on par with what I wish Disney would price their Food & Wine snack-size items.
Finally, guests also have the option to buy a Wine & Craft Brew Tasting Card as well, which comes with 6 beverage options and can be used over at the Wilderness Dance Hall.
In addition to the Tasting Card foods, there are numerous other food items in locations throughout the park. Some of these are old favorites, like the Fun Bun, Fun Stick, and Boysenberry Meatballs. Others are fantastic-looking new creations, like Dole Float with Boysenberry and Pineapple Juices, a Boysenberry Grilled Cheese, and Boysenberry BBQ Chicken Fries. There are definitely a LOT of food options—more than ever, this year!
Entertainment at the Boysenberry Festival
Finally, there are a lot of shows at Knott’s Berry Farm’s springtime festival. This year, they’re all pretty much repeats of past performers, but they’re great shows, and the variety in entertainment is very admirable. Here’s a brief run-down of most of what to expect!
Boysenberry Blues is a one-man band at the Boardwalk BBQ dining area. Previous festivals have featured a guitar duet here.
Chaparral performs at the Fireman’s Stage next to the Fireman’s BBQ in Ghost Town, across from the Bird Cage Theatre. Their country and folk tunes provide a pleasant and enjoyable melody for guests enjoying their meal.
Old Time Melodrama returns to the Bird Cage Theatre in Ghost Town, providing a humorous and over-dramatic production of daft villainy and boysenberry thievery!
Space Beagle is back in Camp Snoopy, telling of everyone’s favorite beagle and his dreams of ascending into outer space. Charlie Brown and Lucy join in on the mission as well.
80s Dance Party runs in the Boardwalk Boardroom (a.k.a. where Dark Ride during Knott’s Scary Farm) from 5:00 - 7:30 on the evenings, spinning and remixing classic beats from the 1980s in a family-friendly club setting. This is the most photogenic entertainment spot. The lighting and atmosphere is quite lively and a lot of fun!
Fiesta with DJ Cruz is very children-oriented, with DJ Cruz playing numerous class dance songs and encouraging kids to dance along. Y-M-C-A? No problem. The wiggle? That’s cool too.
Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies are back in the Wagon Camp during evenings, twice a night. This comedy musical group has continued its popularity ever since transplanting to Knott’s from a mousey neighbor down the road, and though they’re not explicitly Boysenberry Festival related, they do put on an entertaining show.
Snoopy’s Boysenberry Jamboree is the marquee show of the festival, taking place in the Calico Mine Stage during the late afternoon and early evening. This is the same show that has run in past years, but it’s a lively and adorable dance revue with a boysenberry model pageant, several dance numbers, and of course, some shenanigans from Snoopy!
Besides the above shows, the Boysenberry Festival also features the Calico Saloon Show, Mystery Lodge, Native American Dancers, and the Wild West Stunt Show, which run throughout the year.
With that, we’ve wrapped up another review from Knott’s Boysenberry Festival. It’s a delightful event that has grown and grown in popularity every year. This year, it’s running a record four weeks and five weekends, and the crowds have definitely befitted the schedule. The park has been pretty crowded over the weekends, which is a great sign of its spring promotion’s success. Go check it out yourself! There’s so much to do, and that doesn’t even include all the great rides, and there are plenty of online deals to help provide a great value for the experience!
And if that doesn’t sway you, well, also remember that Catawampus told you to go. And you don’t want to disappoint Catawampus, do you? …Do you??
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