One of the best things about Spring is the Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm. Celebrating the park’s humble beginnings, this event also celebrates the berry itself. March 19 was the start of the 2016 event, and this is what we experienced.
Peanuts Party In The Park
A new show that debuted for this year’s Boysenberry Festival is the Party in the Park. Centered the Boardwalk Circle, this show features a few of the Peanuts characters entertaining with some singers and dancers. Charlie Brown, Linus, and Lucy together are participating in a Boysenberry contest and different songs are performed in the progression of awaiting the results. At a couple points, kids from the audience are invited to join along with instruments and dancing.
The show had some great songs in use. There was a great blend of it being modern pop songs with definite rock beats, but had some country bluegrass thrown in to add a county fair atmosphere. The decorations also gave that vibe as banners were strewn across the fountain, while small covered wagons sat below the stage. It was a fun show that had a great interactive element for kids.
One of the surprises, for me, was that the Calico Saloon was open again ahead of the kickoff for the 75th anniversary of Ghost Town. I was able to tour it while still under refurbishment construction, but that was just a few weeks ago. It’s doors were wide opened for visitors, and the show had begun again!
The revamp of the saloon has new balcony seating, and great new decor. I’ve been to a real ghost town saloon and this is as close as they come to those! The planning and research for details of the place really paid off. It felt like I stepped back in to the old west.
The show is always a fun one with Cameo Kate, Dakota Dan, and Fingers on the piano. Audience participation happens (and we got a treat to this on the trip as you can see from the video), and it’s always a hilarious show when that happens. There are great performers and it’s a great atmosphere.
The two daytime shows mentioned above are not the only things to watch during a visit to Knott’s. There is some great night fun to be had at the park.
Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies is getting to be a traditional main show for the park, and they do not disappoint. Their style of bluegrass doesn’t use just traditional songs, but incorporates some country versions of tunes like Stayin’ Alive and Beatles covers. Their humor keeps the audience guessing what hilarity will happen next. One of my personal favorite songs with both the musical stylings and jokes that are their trade is the Devil Went Down to Georgia. The quartet performed it during our visit, and it’s definitely different each time I watch. This was no exception, but I also mean that in a good way. It caused great laughter from me.
Over in Calico Square was Jammin’ in the Dark, which returns again for the festival. A DJ spins songs while lights shine on the dance floor. Timed “smoke” shoots up from the stage at appropriate moments. This location is a terrific choice for the dance fest. There’s plenty of open space and a true stage for the DJ. Last year it was at Boardwalk Circle, which made use of the circular stage, but didn’t have quite the central dance floor that this location has. The effects gave a club-like environment. It was hard to resist to dance along, and especially that many were having a great time dancing. It’s the kind of thing that tops a night off well at the park.
World Boysenberry Pie Eating Competition
Returning for the second year in a row is the Boysenberry Pie Eating contest. Joey Chestnut won last year and returned to keep his title. Several other competitors, even a couple local contestants, kept Joey on his toes this year. This event was only on the first day of the Festival (but my guess is it’ll return next year too).
Each had 8 minutes to eat as much pounds of pie as they could. It was a messy, adrenaline filled contest. It was intriguing and disgusting at the same time. This was a unique experience to behold. And, yes, Joey kept his title as the champion, even setting a new record.
Of course the main attraction for the Boysenberry Festival is the food. There are so many boysenberry infused food to sample! A tasting card package allows guests to get short ribs, alligator bites with boysenberry aioli, bbq wings, meatballs, panna cotta, and dessert flautas. I highly recommend buying the card as each of these are not to be missed. In addition to these food offerings, there are other dishes to get. A boysenberry infused hot dog, jalapeño sausage, boysenberry bbq chicken sandwich, boysenberry bbq pulled pork, Fun Bun, Fun Stick, boysenberry trifle, and boysenberry churro sundae are some more of the fare to grab at the Festival.
There is also wine tasting at the Wilderness Dance Hall which has quite a few from California, as well as Boysenberry Beer to sample. The package allows for 6 very full tastes, and I can tell you that is quite the deal too. Among my favorites are the Boysenberry Beer (being more of a beer fan) and the Gumtree Cabernet. But, it was hard to go wrong with any of the other wineries. Some are sweeter than others, but all were delicious wines.
The Boysenberry Festival is one of the best and unique things that Knott’s offers. Every time I wish it wasn’t only two weeks, as I want to go at least every week of the year! The food is distinctive and delicious. The entertainment can make for a wonderful day in the park on its own. And the decoration throughout the park makes it a grand sight to see. And, I didn’t even go into detail about Lucy’s Really Big Spring Show, the attractions, Snoopy in his Easter Beagle outfit, the store fronts set up in Ghost Town, the Birdcage Square shows, and Salsa Dance Party at Fiesta Plaza! This is one of the best things in Orange County, and hurry to visit because it’ll be all over after April 3!