Knott’s Berry Farm’s Boysenberry Festival 2018
Author: Tania Escobar
Grab a bib and napkins because Knott’s Berry Farm’s annual Boysenberry Festival is underway! The event takes place during spring break, this year running from March 16 to April 8, though it’s been known to be extended by popular demand. I’m secretly wishing for those results, as the amalgamation of food with boysenberry allows me to eat items I would never have a chance to anywhere else.
Walter and Cordelia Knott, founders of Knott’s Berry Farm, moved to Buena Park in 1920 after their attempts at a farm in the Mojave Desert didn’t pan out. Joining his cousin, who grew and sold berries, Walter was savvy enough to buy out his neighbors to expand the farm and sell their produce by the roadside. In 1923 family friend Rudolph Boysen created a berry that was a cross between the raspberry, the loganberry, and the blackberry. Still, he abandoned it because the strain needed a lot of upkeep. Walter took it on and called it the boysenberry. Cordelia would bake it in her pies, turn it into jams, and sell it in her tearoom. By 1934, it became the most popular berry in the country and remains a beloved food to this day.
This year at the festival, Knott’s Berry Farm claimed they offered over 80 different items. I’ll be honest I kept track, which made for quite a challenging scavenger hunt. In the end, I only managed to find 40. New items for purchase were a boysenberry cinnamon bun and an extremely popular boysenberry boba tea.
Newbies of the show who want to try the year’s creations can get a “tastecard” for thirty dollars. In previous years the tastecard was merely a flimsy card to hole punch. This year, Knott’s stepped up their game by offering a glossy card on a purple lanyard with rip-off tabs, allowing participants to get seconds of their favorite dish.
Plenty of items were up for tasting this year, such as the slow-cooked boysenberry short ribs, which were sweet and smokey. Yummy bites of cheesy goodness called boysenberry pierogies were next to try.
Chefs this year also made samples of fusion food. First was the boysenberry elote, a corn-on-the-cob dish. This one had a twist, using boysenberry mayonnaise and boysenberry butter. Another cultural dish was the boysenberry cheese quesadilla: a purple passion of traditional cotija cheese fused with boysenberry salsa and sour cream. Lastly, there was the boysenberry hummus with pita bread. This Mediterranean vegetarian dish had a flavor twist of bitter syrup.
Next on the card was a boysenberry sausage on a bun and dessert, a boysenberry coconut macaroon. The sausage was served with boysenberry ketchup and boysenberry mustard. This strange concoction was surprisingly my favorite this year. As for the macaroon, it tasted exactly like a Girl Scout Samoa cookie! Worth buying and taking home! The final dish on the tastecard was the annual boysenberry chicken wings, tangy with a kick.
Veteran attendees may skip the taste card and beeline to the faithful foods from past festivals. In my first year attending, they had alligator bites with boysenberry aioli, which made a strong comeback. There was also the fan-favored chocolate-covered boysenberry cheesecake on a stick. As the park has a Western theme, I indulged in calico soda: a boysenberry seltzer water served in a mason jar in the saloon.
Aside from food, the Boysenberry Festival also had a crafts fair and activities. A popular item I saw patrons purchasing was a cute and clever pie hat shaped like a beret. I myself am guilty of purchasing a mini hair clip pie because it had a marvelous fruit smell. If the affair extends, I will buy more mini pies to wear!
As for activities, I enjoyed making my delicious mini-pie for five bucks. I also relished watching the annual pie-eating contest. Winners get a face full of pie and a tummy ache. Of course, guests can ride the coasters for entertainment or run into any member of the Peanuts Gang for a photo op.
Though next year’s festival dates haven’t been announced, there is still time to check out all the sweet treats this weekend! Otherwise, you’ll have to keep your fingers crossed that they will extend the event for another week.
Knotts Bery Farm
Address: 8039 Beach Blvd, Beuna Park, CA 90620
Knott’s plans for the summer include a new thrill ride, HangTime, geared to take the place of Boomerang’s old spot on the boardwalk. This coaster will feature a 90-degree climb to the launch, which appears to have an equal 90-degree face-first plummet. It will also have a few upside-down loops and turns.