Exploring the California Strawberry Festival at its Ventura Fairground debut


Ruby Jenkins

The Ventura County Fairgrounds have always been notable for their beautiful views of both the Pacific Ocean as well as the Foothill Mountains. This years California Strawberry Festival brought people from all over the state just waiting to get a glimpse of Ventura’s vast mountain ranges and coastline.

Julia Brossia and Ruby Jenkins

On May 22, 2023, California’s 37th Annual Strawberry Festival came to the Ventura County Fairgrounds for the very first time. An estimated 20,000 people from all over the state attended the berry-filled festival on Saturday and Sunday. From food, games, booths and of course, strawberries, Ventura proved to be a great host for this year’s California Strawberry Festival. 

As the sun shined, bringing warm weather to the venue, people flowed into the festival. As expected, there was an abundance of food items ranging from strawberries to strawberry-flavored desserts, as well as a variety of food trucks. Upon walking into the festival, many booths selling fresh strawberries could be seen. As one continues strolling, a variety of strawberry treats can be found, including chocolate-covered strawberries, kebabs and even a “Shortcake Experience,” where one can spend $5 and enter a hall filled with ingredients for strawberry shortcake. 

On the main road of the festival, there is a plethora of different snacks. The booth shown above is the Oxnard Buddhist Temple selling chocolate covered strawberries. Although some attendees of the festival noted that there wasn’t as much strawberry themed items as they would have liked, there were still long lines at places like these. (Ruby Jenkins)

Although the main event was the strawberries, the festival had plenty of other activities. When you first entered the grounds, there was a “Ninja Course” for kids to climb on, while across the way booths for henna tattoos and face paintings lined the street. The main road through the festival had plenty of side streets containing various stages for the acts playing on each of the days. We happened to catch Past Actions Heroes playing their 3:30 p.m. set. Many people sat down in chairs placed around the stage to watch the 80’s tribute band. 

On the opposite side of the grounds, there is a large area where rides and food stands lay. This area is where the weekly Ventura flea market is held. There were long lines for each of the rides, such as the smaller ones for the kids and even the Ferris wheel. Although the Ferris wheel at the yearly fair is significantly bigger, the smaller one still had a beautiful view of Ventura’s Foothill mountains on one side and the Pacific coast on the other. The views alone show why the Ventura Fairgrounds were chosen as the venue for this year’s festival. 

While many were standing in line for food and entertainment, most were walking through the various stalls filled with local vendors. From candles, jewelry, giant pickles and beef jerky, everyone found something they liked. 

Along with the many booths featuring arts, crafts, snacks and products, Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) was represented at a booth in one of the Arts and Crafts halls. A handful of Design Technology (DTech) students worked hard to design, produce and sell their products at the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) booth. They sold shirts, tote bags, tumblers, ornaments, stickers, posters, magnets and coasters, all aligning with the strawberry theme. Kiana Felix ‘25 told us about the success of their booth. “We had a really great spot and we had a lot of people coming through. […] The tote bags sold out on the first day [along with] the ornaments,” Felix said. 

Despite the success of DTech’s sales, the process was grueling. When asked about how long it took for the class to prepare, Felix explained that “the process took three weeks.” “It was a really busy three weeks because usually we would have more time, but it kind of came at us last minute,” Despite the difficulties that surrounded the preparation for it, Felix concluded by saying,“It [was] a really great experience and a learning experience as far as sales and customer interactions go.”

Out of the many rides at the festival, the Ferris wheel was by far the most popular, offering a wonderful view of the hills as well as the ocean. With lines lasting for up to an hour, many were willing to wait in the blazing sun to experience this ride. (Julia Brossia)

Outside of DTech students, many other Foothill Tech students attended the festival. Opinions varied, but many came to the conclusion that the festival was underwhelming. Due to the traffic Ventura endured the weekend of the festival and the lack of strawberry-themed activities, students were disappointed. “It wasn’t what I thought it was gonna be like, to be honest,” Karidee Higgins ‘25 said. “I thought there was gonna be more stuff to do. […] There was a lot of traffic and no parking.” 

Avery Ranola ‘25 shared a similar opinion, expressing their discontent with the traffic, prices and lack of interesting strawberry food combinations. “I thought there was going to be strawberry basil or strawberry balsamic,” Ranola explained. “The most interesting thing was strawberry chocolate and that’s basic.” 

Despite the underwhelming nature of the festival that some students observed, others agreed that the festival was worth the wait. “As far as I’ve heard, a lot of people had fun. The food was great and the rides were a lot of fun,” Ranola revealed. For both DTech students, who got an enriching learning experience in terms of sales and customer interactions, as well as the general public who got a fun day filled with food and activities, the Strawberry Festival proved to be an enjoyable way to get in the summer mood. 

What do you think?