Knott’s Berry Farm launched the now-annual Knott’s Boysenberry Festival in 2014, which takes place over more than two weeks in the spring each year and celebrates Knott’s rich history of– what else– berry farming and the storied cultivation of one particular, very special berry.
A boysenberry is a cross between a blackberry, a raspberry, and a loganberry, and Knott’s founder Walter Knott was a key figure in the (no pun intended) preservation and proliferation of the berry back in the 1920s and 30s.
As ITM previewed last week, this year’s Boysenberry Festival at the Knott’s Berry Farm theme park in beautiful downtown Buena Park, California celebrates all things boysenberry… with food, drinks, live entertainment, and access to Knott’s year-round rides and attractions that have made the park (and the original Ghost Town area) such a huge draw for Southern California crowds over the past seventy-five years.
Let’s run through a quick breakdown of most of what the Boysenberry Festival has to offer– hint: there’s a lot, and I’ll do my best to make it clear what makes each unique food item or live show special, but it’s really an event that needs to be experienced in person to truly absorb the feel and excitement of everything that goes on throughout the day.
FOOD AND DRINK
As I previewed in my interview with Knott’s chefs last week, there is a wide variety of specialty boysenberry-flavored items available at the festival. In order to get a better overview of many of the more popular items, guests can purchase a Tasting Card for $25.00, which includes one helping of the six separate items listed below, and each one is definitely worth it.
If you get the card and spread the items out over your entire day, you’re sure to leave full and satisfied by the end of the evening. It’s a great value and I can recommend it for anyone who truly wants to get a taste of the festival.
Boysenberry BBQ Short Ribs
Spicy Boysenberry BBQ Wings
Fried Alligator Bites
Boysenberry BBQ Meatballs
Boysenberry Panna Cotta
Boysenberry Dessert Flautas
Of course, there’s plenty more food available, not to mention drinks– including an assortment of wines and even boysenberry-flavored beer. You might have to visit more than once during the festival in order to try everything.
In addition to the food, of course, there is plenty of live entertainment to be enjoyed around the festival during both day and nighttime hours. Kids, teens, and adults alike will find something to amuse them and even get them dancing here and there.
Bird Cage Square
Lots of different live events are scheduled throughout the day in Bird Cage Square, including something called Grandpa’s Pajama Game, Vine (Line) Dancing, a Berry Jug Band, and even a Pie Walk Contest. We saw a hilarious game of “Mayor Says” (basically Simon Says) and a Dueling Fiddles/Banjo performance, both of which were tremendous fun.
Lucy’s Really Big Spring Show
This one’s pretty much just for the kids, but it’s a good pit stop for families near Camp Snoopy. Lucy, Charlie Brown, and Linus dance around with a perky host to spring-themed tunes.
World Boysenberry Pie Eating Competition
Probably the most exciting (and disgusting) moment of the festival’s opening day was the Boysenberry Pie Eating Contest (see the video above). After eight non-stop minutes of chowing down, last year’s champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut took home the first place award trophy once again, having consumed over fourteen pounds of pie. Not an event for the faint of heart.
Calico Saloon Show
This is essentially the same show that has been running at Knott’s for years, but it’s nice to see the complete refurbished theater and get out of the sun for a little while. You can also enjoy any food or beverage of your choosing while you watch!
Peanuts Party in the Park
This show is more for the whole family than the Lucy-centric one mentioned above, and features energetic dancers getting down with Charlie Brown and the gang to classic rock songs, reworked to fit into the theme of the festival.
Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies
Probably one of the biggest draws of the festival for theme park fans is the return of Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies (formerly Disneyland’s Billy Hill and the Hillbillies.) See the video above. The band performs three times an evening in Knott’s famous Bird Cage Theatre during the event.
Salsa Dance Party with Opa Opa Band
Once nighttime rolls around, you can make your way over to Fiesta Square on the opposite side of the park from Ghost Town, and get down to the spicy salsa stylings of Opa Opa.
Jammin’ in the Dark
Perhaps the most unlikely event at Knott’s Boysenberry Festival is Jammin’ in the Dark, essentially a boysenberry-themed rave in Calico Square. It seems like the popularity of dance parties at theme parks has grown over the past few years, leaving many longtime fans scratching their heads as to why. But it certainly is a pulse-pounding (if ear-throbbing) way to end a fun-filled day at the festival.
As you can see, there’s so much to do at Knott’s Boysenberry Festival this year that you could probably come back each and every day over the event’s sixteen days and never get bored (or hungry.)
In recent years Knott’s has evolved from emulating Six Flags’ aggressive roller coaster construction to becoming a less-expensive, friendly-competitive neighbor to Disneyland, and I think the park has improved all the more because of that. The Boysenberry Festival is the perfect example of that spirit, and I can’t possibly recommend more that you make a point to go before it’s over.