WATSONVILLE — Every year, locals and visitors alike gather in Watsonville to celebrate the city’s most valuable crop — strawberries.
The Watsonville Strawberry Festival returns this year on Aug. 4 and 5, bringing with it some old favorites and a few new additions.
Originally started in 1995 as a fundraiser to help downtown Watsonville recover from destruction caused by the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, the festival is now held to support local nonprofit organizations.
“It’s also just a great way to draw attention to the importance of strawberries to our community,” said festival coordinator Israel Tirado. “So many of us are involved in the industry in one way or another.”
The festival, now in its 24th year, will offer people a chance to sample a number of different strawberry delicacies, enjoy live music and browse various vendors, all while supporting 12 local nonprofits.
As per tradition, the festival will also include a carnival with rides and games. According to Tirado, he and other organizers are hoping to arrange a couple of newer, more exciting rides to attract an older thrill-seeking crowd.
Live music will be performed on three separate stages at the festival, including a small set up at the beer garden and a special “cultural stage,” which was added a couple of years ago.
Around 30 different strawberry-related foods and beverages will be sold, including classics such as strawberry shortcake and smoothies, and also newer items such as strawberry pancakes.
Tirado revealed that special souvenirs celebrating the City of Watsonville’s 150th anniversary will be available at this year’s festival.
“Watsonville and strawberries go hand in hand,” Tirado said. “Especially this year, it’s great to show that connection.”
By early July, all vendor spaces had been filled, Tirado said, but organizers are still looking for sponsors.
“This event puts our town on the map every year,” he said. “It’s a great way to celebrate our biggest crop but also the people who grow and pick it. It really highlights what we do.”
The Watsonville Strawberry Festival will be held on Aug. 4 and 5 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For information, visit celebratestrawberries.com.