*Event Photo Credit: Josh Taylor and Mondo of Five Fires
On Thursday, March 2nd we were invited to be a part of Knott’s Berry Farm’s Boysenberry Festival Preview Event. This after hours, media only event was held inside of the Wilderness Dance Hall in Ghost Town and featured a slew of different foods and merchandise that will be available to guests who visit the Boysenberry Festival March 10th-April 16th, 2023.
Upon arrival what impressed me the most is how the boysenberry foods and beverages continue to expand. I actually made a joke with the chefs on hand about eating only one bite of each and still not being able to try everything and they joked in response, “That’s how we feel at our kitchen tastings.”
The Boysenberry Festival began in 2014 and after 9 years (give or take a pandemic) the food menu is filled with old favorites and new sensational savory and sweet treats. I’m happy to report that nearly everything I tried was good to great. With over 3 dozen different things to eat, a recommendation is to grab the tasting card for $55, which gets you a total of 6 food offerings.
While 6 tastings doesn’t seem like alot, one thing I’ve always loved about the Boysenberry Festival is their portions. For the price point, especially with the tasting card, you won’t feel nickel and dimmed. Trust me, you get your money’s worth. I personally tried the Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese with Boysenberry Ranch drizzled on top and even after that one “tasting” I was pretty full. Of course, I had to try some other things, but trust me if you’ve never been, you’ll want to choose your treats wisely, or make sure to come back multiple days. We always strategically choose and space out our tastings so it lasts all day. Or if you’re hungry enough, just an hour.
Personally, when I think about boysenberries, the famous berry that practically originated at Knotts over 100 years ago, I think of sweet dessert-like snacks…and there are plenty to choose from. I got my hands on Boysenberry Beignets (because who doesn’t love those things right?) and they were absolutely delightful. Other offerings include Boysenberry Pie Tarts, Boysenberry Waffles with Boysenberry Syrup, the always classic Boysenberry Fun Bun (kind of like a cinnamon roll but way more fun), Boysenberry Key Lime Tarts, Boysenberry Milkshakes, and if you are feeling really adventurous and in need of something deep fried you can get the Boysenberry Donut Funnel Cake. (Yeah! They put a donut on top of funnel cake and I’ve decided that this will be my last meal before I die). You can always count on the food and beverage team at Knott’s to take offerings up to eleven.
If you aren’t looking to just spend all of your time eating sugary treats, the savory side of the Boysenberry Festival has some great offerings. The aforementioned Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese with Boysenberry Ranch was fantastic, but so were the Boysenberry Thai Chili Chicken Wings. There are returning favorites like the Elote with Boysenberry Butter, the Boysenberry Sausage with Boysenberry Mustard, and the Boysenberry Beef Tips over Parmesan Grits. There are also some new foods this year too including Boysenberry Fried Ravioli, Caprese Garlic Bread with Boysenberry Balsamic Glaze, and the Knott’s Boysenberry Chicken Dinner Loaded Baked Potato (which is as gigantic as it’s name is.)
For those looking to mix some sweet and savory, a new item this year is the Boysenberry Waffle Burger and the Sweet Corn Nuggets with Boysenberry Honey, which I got my hands on. For those of you who love a good corn fritter, these are some good corn fritters. They have vegetarian and vegan options too! A Tofu, Wild Rice, and Kale Bowl with Boysenberry and Apricot Glaze was on display and looked fantastic. Plus they have Veggie Sliders with Boysenberry Mayo, a Boysenberry Green Goddess Salad, and a Veggie Chili with Boysenberry Croutons.
With all of this eating you might be thirsty. On the alcoholic side of things they’ve got the standard Boysenberry Lager, Hefeweizen, and Sangria, but I was stunned to try the Boysenberry Milkshake Hazy IPA (brewed by Brewery X) and as a non-IPA guy I have to say that this might be my favorite IPA I’ve ever had. I’m glad it was added to the menu this year and I’ll be back for seconds and probably thirds. That’s often something that happens at Boysenberry Festival that you don’t expect, expanding your horizons to foods and drinks you typically wouldn’t elsewhere. Also joined the IPA are a slew of hard seltzers, wines, and speciality cocktails including Boysenberry Mojitos and Boysenberry Margaritas. Maybe you are at the park in the morning and think it’s too early for a heavy beer, try the Boysenberry Mimosa. There’s also Boysenberry Mudslides and Boysenberry Mules to round out an extensive lineup of adult drinks.
For those not looking to get a few drinks in before hopping on a roller coaster like Ghostrider or Hangtime (I don’t recommend it) there are also some non-alcoholic beverages that I personally think might be the gems of the entire Boysenberry Festival menu. I got a taste of the Boysenberry Mango Lemonade and it might be my favorite thing I tried at the preview event. There’s also a regular Boysenberry Lemonade and a Boysenberry Cucumber Lemonade. A new twist on an old classic is the Boysenberry Float, a dollop of boysenberry ice cream on top of a sarsaparilla.
For those looking to take something home, there are plenty of bottled and canned items. You could just take home a can of boysenberries to create your own wild festival-like concoction, or you can enjoy Boysenberry Mustard, Ranch, BBQ sauce, and several other condiments to slap on top of your homemade meals. Then there’s the Boysenberry sodas and snacks like Boysenberry jelly beans or Boysenberry popcorn.
Lastly, we have to talk about Knott’s merchandise. In recent years I feel like they’ve really gone all out and had fun with some of their offerings. (If you don’t have Knottsopoly, what are you doing?) For the Boysenberry Festival they have new Limited Edition Spirit Jerseys, new shirts, sweaters, and even parasols that look like boysenberry pies. They even have their own Boysenberry bubble wands. Don’t taste the bubbles though, they taste nothing like boysenberries. Trust me, I learned first hand. (I do what ever it takes as a reporter.) And as with each event, prices always seem to be substantially lower than any other theme park in SoCal. There is always a great deal to be had with merchandise at Knott’s.
It looks like this year’s Boysenberry Festival will expand on previous years, and as far as the food and merchandise go, will outshine previous years. On top of the things I’ve already talked about, Knott’s will have exclusive entertainment for the Boysenberry Festival including their “Tied Up in Knotts” art show, the all new stage show Knott’s Preserved: A Musical Celebration, Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies, the History of the Boysenberry Museum Exhibit, and of course a plethora of craft booths from local artisans. It seems like there is always something new and exciting look forward to on the farm with each seasonal celebration.
Visit the festival March 10th-April 16th or for more information and to buy tickets online visit Knotts.com.