Watsonville strawberry festival
People walk through the Strawberry Festival in downtown Watsonville in 2018. — Pajaronian file

The community is gearing up for the Watsonville Strawberry Festival 2023, a beloved annual event that celebrates the region’s rich agricultural heritage. This year’s festival promises to be a delightful extravaganza, with a special focus on showcasing local arts and crafts vendors, a Berry Best Dressed contest, a cultural stage and more. 

The Watsonville Strawberry Festival will kick off on Aug. 4 from 5-9pm with carnival attractions and entertainment. It will begin in full force on Aug. 5 from 11am to 8pm, and on Aug. 6 from 11am to 7pm. Located in downtown Watsonville around the Watsonville Plaza, admission is free, ensuring that everyone can come and enjoy the fun.

Friday evening features a carnival atmosphere and live music with Harpin Johnny and the Groove Hounds. Live music will continue throughout Saturday and Sunday on three different stages: the main stage, a stage at the beer and wine garden, and a cultural stage at the corner of Main Street and Lake Avenue. The cultural stage will showcase various performances, traditional dances and music representing the region’s vibrant heritage.

For those who love a little friendly competition, the festival will host the popular pie-eating contest, where participants can demonstrate their gastronomic skills in devouring delicious strawberry pies. Additionally, fashion enthusiasts can partake in the Berry Best Dressed costume contest, where creativity meets strawberries.

One of the standout attractions of this year’s Strawberry Festival is the artisan market presented by Arte Del Corazon, featuring an array of talented local artists and craftspeople. Festivalgoers will have the opportunity to browse and shop for unique keepsakes, supporting local artisans and celebrating their artistic endeavors.

The second annual Strawberry Jam 1k/5k Fun Run/Walk will take place Aug. 5, starting and finishing at Ramsay Park in Watsonville with some of the course through the Watsonville Slough system. To register, visit Active.com.

“The art, cultural and music elements of the Strawberry Festival are what really make this a Watsonville event,” said Nick Calubaquib, director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Watsonville. “They highlight and uplift our people, our culture and everything that makes this place a great community.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Strawberry Festival without strawberry treats to enjoy! In addition to a variety of delectable menu items, food vendors will be featuring strawberry-centric food for noshing, including strawberry-infused tacos, pizza, tamales, shortcake, churros, twinkies and more. 

For information, visit watsonvillestrawberryfestival.com.

—Arts Council Santa Cruz County

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