We went to the Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival for the first time today. We had seen ads running on TV and it looked like a really great time. Since we are busy Sundays we decided to go on Saturday. I was particularly excited to have a Strawberry Shortcake because they were continually shown on their ads.
The Good: The parking was paved. If you’ve ever been to the Kern County Fair, you’re pretty used to parking in dirt. I don’t know it they have other parking, but we arrived early so got a decent spot.
The sights and sounds are great for small children and keep their interest. There were numerous small free areas for young children, which included a putting green, bean-bag toss and more that kept the kids interest for a while.
There was a Strawberry tasting area in a building that gave you three strawberries to rate. I can honestly say the green label was the best, sweetest, strawberry I’ve ever had.
The Bad: It is expensive. We spent $18 to get in the door and $5 on parking. Luckily our kids were free since they were under 6. Other than the few free areas for small children, everything costs money. If you want your small ones to keep busy, you’re gonna need cash.
Calling it a “Strawberry Festival” was a far stretch. It should have been labeled “Carnival or Fair, with a couple booths selling strawberries”.
I am not picking on it, since there were many people who seemed to be having a great time, but it was not what we expected. If you are a local teen, this is the place to be. The midway area was packed at 3:00 p.m and I can only imagine what it would look like later in the evening.
Had we known it was going be more Carnival/Fair than Strawberry Festival, we probably would have stayed home. Since the kids were really to little to go on the rides, the only thing we let them do was the Pony ride at $6 a pop. Other than a couple booths selling large flats of strawberries, and a couple selling strawberry shortcakes, the atmosphere was definitely not strawberry. Sadly we probably won’t return until the kids are quite older or we find a babysitter and we want to go to a carnival.
In the end we spent a total of $35 to walk around for a bit, get two pony rides and leave. We didn’t eat, and there was not way I was spending $6 each on the Strawberry Shortcakes. On the plus side, we had some local strawberries at home, so we ended up making our own,
The Kids Take: Montana and Eddie had fun at the free areas, and loved the pony ride. Montana felt left out because we wouldn't let her go on the larger carnival rides.
Overall: You need to know what you’re getting into before you go. Carnival with a teeny touch of Strawberry Festival is what it is. If that’s your cup of tee then you will have a great time. If you’re expecting the old time country festival feel, this probably isn’t going to fit that bill. It can get expensive quick, just like any fair, especially if you want to eat there.
I wouldn’t be as disappointed if I had really known what I was getting before we went.
The clown was happy enough to stop for a photo.
We spun a wheel at the Toyota booth and Montana won a seat cushion.
This is where you got to sample and rate three different strawberries. I can say the green label was the best
I've ever tasted.
One of the few indicators that this was actually a Strawberry Festival.
Since we didn't get a Strawberry shortcake at the Festival, we decided to make our own.
They were fantastic!