Nothing says “Americana” like a summer festival: Kitschy community-loved events like chili cook-offs and carnivals are iconic, classic, and fun. This weekend in OC, locals can get a sweet taste of small-town summer at the 52nd annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival.
The event, which celebrates the tiny and beloved red fruit, has raised more than $4.5 million for non-profit causes. It also has a storied and uniquely Californian history: In the '60s, a young Steve Martin won the festival's talent competition, and Robert F. Kennedy spoke at the festival just two days before his tragic 1968 assassination. The Strawberry Festival has seen its share of celebrities over the decades, from Nancy Sinatra to Hilary Duff.
Over the years, the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival has featured carnival games, pie-eating contests, fishing ponds, karaoke and pony rides. The centerpiece of each opening ceremony is (wait for it...) the World's Largest Strawberry Shortcake. The Cake, which I firmly believe deserves capitalization, has traditionally been cut by the mayor of Garden Grove, who hands the first piece over to Miss Garden Grove. Then up to 4,000 yummy slices are handed out to festival attendees (for free!).
This year's berry fest will kick off Friday and will feature more than 30 carnival rides, music, and food booths staffed by local nonprofits and vendors. For those who appreciate the wonder of cheesy, deep-fried Americana, grab some food on a stick and stroll around to check out the “Strawberry Jammin' Talent Contest” on Friday night, the kickoff parade Saturday morning or the “Berry Berry Beautiful Baby Pageant” on Sunday. I suggest you shed any illusions of cool you have, slap some sunscreen on and dive into a whipped cream-topped wonderland of silly summer fun!
on my iTunes: At the Hop- Danny & The Juniors (the #1 song of 1958, the year the Strawberry Festival was founded)