This year’s 17th annual brought in a pleased crowd. Veterans of the festival gave it a thumbs up, while newcomers saw it as a great experience that they would like to repeat.
The event is mot famous for its strawberry-inspired food, but it's also a family-centric weekend complete with carnival rides, lots of live music and—for the first time this year—a bike race. Parents with children said they appreciated the positive atmosphere for kids and the rides for the little ones. They also felt sweet about creating family yearly tradition of coming to the festival.
“Kid-friendly is really important for us,” said Genaro Hendry, a Santa Cruz resident who was visiting the festival for the first time with his family. “It will probably be an every-year thing for us now.”
Other parents were also happy with family ambience, but thought that the feeling of safety at the event had been crucial for their return.
“I feel safe with all the police officers here,” said Makayla Mckinley, a San Francisco Bay Area resident who had attended the festival in the past and this year, brought her two children. “It is a good representation.”
The reviews of the festival at some online sites are mixed. Certain attendees ignored the bad comments of these websites and instead chose to be their own judges.
“I think it is a lot better then the Yelp reviews say it is,” said Ariana Schulte, 22, of Sunnyvale. “The pizza is really good, and apparently they have very good chocolate-dipped strawberries.”
was seen as yet another plus by another first-time festivalgoer.
“I came here because I wanted to try a bunch of stuff with different variety of things with strawberries,” said Nick Wilcox, 22, a Los Altos resident who hopes to go to medical school next year. “I thought it was cool that there was stuff like the strawberry pizza.”
Vendors also appeared to be pleased with the festival, with non-profits seeing it as the perfect place to raise funds for their projects, and spend time with the community.
“The strawberry festival is a venue for a lot of different non-profits to show what they do and raise funds,” said Pam Zamani, who was selling fresh donated strawberries on behalf of the 47th annual Watsonville Fly-In & Air Show. “It brings the community together and we really enjoy our participation.”
Organizers at the festival were busy as ever, but expressed overall relief at the success of the festival.
“The festival is going great,” Doug Mattos, director of the , said midway through his busy weekend. “The food is phenomenal and the people are all excited.”
The cloudy weather on Saturday was expected to have caused a slightly lower overall attendance at the festival in comparison to last year. However, despite this minor set back, the food and activity stands were optimistic and the sun came out on Sunday.
“The booths are reporting good sales, and the food court is very packed,” said Mattos.