By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
The 53rd Annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival filled downtown Garden Grove Memorial Day Weekend with celebrities, families, politicians and festival food seekers.
“Well, it was a wonderful festival, we broke all records, we took in more money than we’ve ever taken in before, which means more money to distribute.
“No incidentsAnd everyone was having a great time,” said Festival Board President Mike Fenderson, “I can’t give you a concrete number to be honest, but I think that over the whole weekend we must have had about a quarter of a million people. The numbers with what was brought in would show something like that.”
The theme of this year’s festival, “The Sweet Sounds of Comedy,” was highlighted by the Parade Grand Marshals, Rico and Raini Rodriguez.
Also, Disney’s “Goofy” was the Theme Grand Marshal for the year, coincidentally on the week of his birthday, which was on May 25.
Kicking off the festival on Friday, May 27 was the annual cutting of the “World’s Largest Strawberry Shortcake.”
“This is the kind of fun that you don’t find many other places anymore,” said Fenderson.
A new comedic addition to the festival this year was the “Ooey-Gooey Pie in the Face Contest” where contestants got to slap pies in the faces of waiting victims.
The festival featured rides that catered to the young and old and even to those who wanted a sky view of the city and also had a large selection of festival and fair style sweets available to attendees.
For those who were a little ride-shy, the contests and music were more than enough.
Fernand and Lucienne Yung, both 62, of Santa Ana, via Belgium, love the festival and have been coming for quite some time.
“We’ve been here [in the U.S.] 61 years,” said Lucienne, “ I’m so excited for everything, I cannot say exactly what might be the best. Maybe, we might do a little dancing, we love dancing.”
“We always have so much fun when we come here,” said Fernand.
Also, the Saturday morning starter event of the parade down Euclid Street between Chapman Avenue and Garden Grove Boulevard attracted a large crowd to kick off the weekend.
“We wanted to come see the parade and do something different for the weekend. We heard there was a strawberry shortcake and wanted to take a little trip,” said Maria Gonzalez,15, of Tustin, “We’re pretty excited to see the parade.”
Although the Strawberry Festival would be remiss if it didn’t carry strawberry shortcake, there were also chocolate covered strawberries, strawberry pie, strawberry smoothies and strawberry ice cream available from vendors and local businesses to keep attendees fed.
“Oh, I’m going to be sure to try some of that shortcake,” said Dawn Campbell of Westminster.
Also on the village green were non-profit groups offering hot dogs, hamburger, cake and corn as well as vendors with ice cream s’mores, caramel apples, bacon and ranch French fries and deep fried burritos.
Even with windy weather and some clouds on Sunday, it was a jam-packed event.
My only regret is that I won’t get to be festival president next year,” said Fenderson, “ It really was a great year, that’s my opinion.”