By Charly SHELTON
Raspberry. Blackberry. Dewberry. Loganberry. Water. Heart. Go berries! By these powers combined, this is a BOYSENBERRY!
One of the greatest fruits ever made, this genetic hybrid of four other berries was an invention of three farmers: Rudolph Boysen, George Darrow and Walter Knott. Knott was a well-known Southern California farmer and berry expert, and also the namesake and proprietor of Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park. This berry-farm-turned-restaurant-turned-theme-park owes some of its popularity to the humble boysenberry, which was served in pies and sauces in the restaurant and now is served in the best concessions and foods at the park. But if you love boysenberries like I do, eating a whole pie every time you go to Knott’s just isn’t enough to curtail the need. So in response to the rumbling tummies and in honor of the history that the boysenberry shares with the park, Knott’s Berry Farm has launched its Boysenberry Festival once again lasting only for two weeks.
This annual festival began in 2014 and is back for its third year, running from March 19 to April 3. You owe it to yourself to come down and take a look. With boysenberry foods, boysenberry beer, boysenberry wine, boysenberry stuffed animals, boysenberry entertainment, boysenberry decorations, boysenberry merchandise and the all-important boysenberry pie, there are plenty of boysenberries to go around.
Boysenberry. Knott’s brought me down on opening day to experience the madness and, I must say, I don’t think I could handle any more boysenberry than I had that day. The food was amazing, the boysenberry drinks were perfect on a hot Saturday and I left the park so full that I couldn’t possibly eat another bite if I tried.
There are a couple of options for those who want to eat all the food that is offered. You can buy generously-sized portions at the window for regular price, usually about $10 per plate. You can probably eat two or three of those in the day. Or for the real die-hard boysenberry nuts who throw caution to the wind and say, “I can eat more than that and still go on roller coasters!” there is the tasting card for $25. This is the path that I took and let me tell you – you can’t do both. It’s rides or food. Silver Bullet is a fun coaster but not after a half dozen boysenberry barbecue chicken wings, three huge boysenberry meatballs, fried alligator bites with boysenberry aioli, boysenberry short ribs, boysenberry panna cotta and boysenberry dessert flautas. And to be honest – I enjoyed the food more than I ever enjoyed any roller coaster.
These tasting portions are still pretty large. I am a big guy, built with a hobbit’s gut, and my big friend was with me at the event, and we just barely were able to finish off the tasting card with all of that food.
If you don’t think you can tackle them all, make sure you hit the meatballs first. They are incredible and you will want to buy the barbecue sauce to take home. It’s in the General Store gift shop, $6.99. You’re welcome.
Another aspect is the Wine and Craft Brew Tasting. In the back of the park, for an additional $25, guests can get the wine and beer tasting card. They receive a plate of small bites to pair with their six tastings, and they are also very generous tastings. Wine is inside the barn and beer is outside on the patio. The real highlight of this is the Knott’s Boysenberry Beer. I wish this was available in stores. It will haunt my dreams forever. This was one of the greatest fruit beers I have ever had. There are other offerings of regular beer, a boysenberry cider, a slew of nice wines and even a boysenberry wine, but the Boysenberry Beer was really something special.