Ticket prices drop and attendance jumps at recent Strawberry fest
Some new thrills, lower ticket prices and the return of an old tradition helped this month’s Pasadena Strawberry Festival bounce back from disappointing numbers last year.
“We estimate that 45,000 people attended the three-day festival,” said executive director Murline Staley. That compares with 25,000, in 2018 when overall participation also dropped.
“We lowered prices to be more family affordable,” Staley said. “We had new attractions such as the car show and brought back the beauty pageant, which had been held off site in April for a number of years.”
Admission prices were dropped by $3 to $12 for this year’s festival, and a $30 family pass was added that admits two adults and two children, Staley said.
The pageant attracted 63 contestants in eight categories, from babies to young women.
Staley said the pageant returned a time-honored tradition to the Pasadena Fairgrounds the night before the May 17-19 festival. The audience saw Ryley Cantu named Baby Miss Strawberry and Erykah Delgado crowned Miss Pasadena Strawberry. Other winners were Aubree Cain (toddler), Lyla Mae Lunday (little), Sophia Del Fierro (petite), Montgomery Arden Bonin (young), McKenna Smith (junior) and Baylee Dean (teen).
The next day, opening ceremonies at 5 p.m. delivered the cutting of “the world’s strawberry shortcake,” with sales from each slice supporting the festival’s scholarship fund.
“We sold out of cake on Saturday night,” Staley said. “That was record-breaking.”
Also at the ceremony, 23 students were presented with scholarships, and outgoing executive director Bert Muston was surprised with roses and a plaque commemorating her 29 years of service to the festival.
On Friday evening May 17, kids competed in a strawberry-eating contest, pigs raced and a juggler strolled the grounds before Bag of Donuts took the Main Stage to serenade couples dancing in the moonlight.
The next day, teams battled in miry pits in the mud volleyball tournament, and entertainment row buzzed with activities.
“The weather couldn’t have been better,” Staley said. “One family had its family reunion on the grounds. There were about 60 of them and they were everywhere.”
Among the winners of various competitions were:
Baby float parade: Dorothy Anne Donovan, Tayli Genese Criswell, McKenzie Loosemore, Nathaniel Lemke and Sophie Elizabeth Lozada;
Car show: Robert Hernandez, Jesus “Chuy” Lozano, Kyle Roebuck, Dwayne Comer, Richard Rice, David Cavataio, Carla Comer, Gabriel Salazar, Kevin Snover and Jesse Salazar.
BBQ showmanship: Lost Pit No. 2, When Pigs Fly No. 1 and Red Dirt Road No. 1.
Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be reached at email@example.com