If you are a returning reader, then you are already more than familiar with my past Knott's adventures. This time, bulbous glowing berries replaced the holiday twinkle lights, and all things candy cane-striped became bright purple to celebrate one of Knott's Berry Farm's claims to fame: the boysenberry.
I attended my first Boysenberry Festival in 2019, prior to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, and that event alone motivated me to become a Knott's Berry Farm passholder. I fell in love with the park under a shroud of my favorite color, intoxicated by the sweet boysenberry smell wafting through Ghost Town.
My dreams of attending in 2020 were snapped away (Thanos style) by the pandemic that consequently ravaged the theme park industry. Thankfully, Knott's worked with what they had and engineered a way for us to enjoy our favorite festival in 2021. I grabbed my friends Stefani and Mariah and we were back at Knott's, appropriately on Pi(e) Day, for another delicious adventure.
Just like their 2020 events, Knott's made sure safety measures were implemented and enforced social distancing, mask wearing (with the exception of taking distanced photos), as well as making sure all tables and touchable areas were regularly sanitized. All staff we encountered were in great spirits, enforced safety measures, and so many interacted with us in fun ways.
Admission to the event included 5 tastings, and parking was free. To redeem a tasting, guests could go up to a booth or dining location to have their tasting cards scanned via QR code. The tasting cards also listed all available options plus their locations in the park.
When we entered into the park, I immediately purchased a boysenberry plant! I was fully ready to run back to put it in my car, but Knott's never ceases to amaze me - they offered to hold the plant for me at the booth. I filled out a ticket, kept the stub and was advised to come back before closing.
Our first order of business was drinks and food in the back of the park, The Boardwalk. We learned from past events that most guests head to Ghost Town right away, leaving the back of the park considerably more empty.
Before we followed through with our eating strategy, we supported Mariah as she pursued a Boysenberry Squishmallow. What is a Squishmallow, you ask? Well, it's an insanely soft, squishy plushie. To create incentive to play the games in the park, Knott's offered two sizes of a special edition Squishmallow, an 8" and a 12". To win one, guests had to use a reloadable game card and play 8 or 12 games.
In addition to the special edition Knott's Squishmallow, the individual games often gave their own prizes. For instance, if you lost a game, that game would still apply to your overall total. However, if you won the game, you'd win a prize! We cheered Mariah on as she won Squishmallow after Squishmallow, confidently showing off her carnival game skills.
It was finally time to begin our tastings, so we strategized, agreed on what was to be shared, and picked up our dishes and drinks. We took full advantage of being able to dine on the floor of the bumper cars, too!
I shared the boysenberry meatloaf and scalloped potatoes with Stefani, she had the turkey sandwich with boysenberry relish, Mariah had the boysenberry BBQ carne asada pizza, and I split the boysenberry BBQ glazed wings with her. Stefani and I had boysenberry cosmos, and Mariah had the champagne float with boysenberry sorbet, the same drink we all loved the last time we were at Knott's.
The drinks were delicious and strong. I thoroughly enjoyed the meatloaf, although I'm not sure how much boysenberry flavor actually came through. There was a distinct play between savory and sweet, but it wasn't distinctly boysenberry. The wings had a similar taste - I wasn't entirely disappointed since I love savory and sweet foods, but these were not the strongest boysenberry-centered dishes.
We made our way through Camp Snoopy and took advantage of this adorable boysenberry truck photo op! I have to admit, the decorations were not the best for this event, especially after seeing the park all done up for Fall-o-ween and Christmas. It was also challenging for me to get back into the content-gathering mindset after such a long break from going out. There's just something about that lull after the holidays that makes you feel like you are in some kind of stand-still in-between.
Though the decorations may have been more scarce this time around, I still enjoyed seeing the jacket I painted for Stefani against the boysenberry background!
My next boysenberry tasting item was the one I had been waiting for since 2019: boysenberry elote (pronounced eh-loh-teh), also known as Mexican street corn. I have to confess, I've never had traditional elote because corn, mayo and cheese never really appealed to me. However, in 2019 bloggers were constantly raving about the boysenberry elote so I just had to try it.
Roasted corn rolled in sweet boysenberry mayo and crunchy boysenberry tortilla chips? Biting into this was absolute heaven. Alexa, play "This is Heaven" by Nick Jonas.
While I lived in my own personal boysenberry elote paradise, Mariah and Stefani enjoyed the boysenberry brisket tater tots with boysenberry aioli and jalapeño chips and we all split the boysenberry mashed potato bowl with corn and chicken.
The day was quickly passing us by. With our bellies full, we decided to do a bit of shopping. We browsed the vendors and crafters who had come to Knott's with their beautiful handmade wares. We also made more rounds to further Mariah in her boysenberry Squishmallow quest.
As the sun began to set, we let our savory dishes digest while we prepared for our sweet treats to come, enjoying a nice stroll through the park and taking advantage of some very photogenic nooks and crannies.
Before we fully transitioned to sweets, we stopped for a caffeinated pick-me-up. While the girls split a boysenberry latte, I wanted to try the boysenberry milk tea with popping pearls.
The milk tea was a little sweet for my taste, but I still enjoyed it. The boysenberry popping pearls were also a pleasant surprise.
After my milk tea, I decided to continue indulging my sweet tooth with a new offering, boysenberry Dippin' Dots. There is a permanent Dippin' Dots stand in the park, but this was the first time boysenberry was offered as a flavor.
The verdict? We were all hoping they would be more like ice cream and less like sorbet, but the opposite ended up being true. The boysenberry flavor was totally present, but there was no creaminess. These Dippin' Dots were more like sorbet and in my opinion were much less satisfying for that reason.
I'm not sure if this was due to my disappointment with the Dippin' Dots or because my taste buds wanted a savory break from the sweet, but Mariah and I decided to order the mac n' cheese bites over tater tots. We subbed the boysenberry sriracha ketchup with the boysenberry aioli from another dish, as I am allergic to tomatoes.
This may not have been the best dish, but it hit the spot at that particular time. The boysenberry aioli was very rich, so this dish felt very indulgent. The mac n' cheese bites themselves were also rich and creamy. This would have been the perfect snack after a late night out.
Finally, we made our way to the far corner of Ghost Town and picked up our last sweet treats of the day, from Ghost Town Bakery. I got the boysenberry bread pudding with creme anglaise, Stefani got the boysenberry crumble, and Mariah grabbed the strawberries and cream funnel cake with lemon drizzle.
The bread pudding was delicious! It was the perfect ending to our night. After a couple uneventful months, we were happy just to be out and about. We didn't take as many pictures as we usually do, but I'm content with that because the vibe of this event was so different. The Taste of Boysenberry Festival was a light in a dark place - as Southern California inches toward normalcy, we were able to escape the current situation and find joy in all things boysenberry. Knott's Berry Farm did an excellent job yet again, creating an event for all ages and all taste buds.
While I realize our idea of normal may not be back any time soon, I am looking forward to more experiences like these, especially as more people get vaccinated.
Until next time,