Artist Katherine Taylor at the Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival.
Katherine Taylor works on her chalk art of whimsical strawberries at the Santa Maria Fairpark on Friday. The Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival began Friday and continues through Sunday. Credit: Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo

Strawberries as rides, chalk art and tasty treats will be served up through Sunday at the Santa Maria Fairpark for the annual Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival.

The festival opened Friday to celebrate the red fruit ranked as Santa Barbara County’s top crop.

New this year is a collection of chalk art, featuring strawberries in various forms.

On Friday afternoon under a canopy to shade her from the sun, Katherine Taylor of Poetry Frog worked on her whimsical creation on the sidewalk outside the Fairpark’s Convention Center.

Taylor said she typically creates wall art that can be found in various locations, including medical facilities serving children.

“I kind of specialize in funny food, bugs and animals, so it fell right into my genre of work,” she said of her decision to participate in the strawberry festival.

However, it won’t be her only chalk art creation this spring since Taylor intends to participate in Santa Barbara’s I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival on Memorial Day weekend, where attendees most likely will find a bow-wearing baby giraffe created by Taylor. 

Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival.
Brisa Garcia, 18 months old, samples a strawberry. Credit: Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo

“The purpose of my work is to spark a spontaneous smile,” Taylor added. 

Along with professional artists, the strawberry festival has set aside a chalk area for children to create their own masterpieces this weekend. 

For those who want to consume strawberries, the California Women for Agriculture again will serve up a strawberry tasting opportunity, letting people sample varieties from three growers.

Strawberries are available for purchase in all forms, including to take home.

Berries also can be acquired as deep-fried delicacies or on a funnel cake topped with the red gems and smothered with whipped cream. 

A strawberry-eating contest will take place daily at 2 p.m., and a children’s strawberry-coloring contest will be on display all three days. 

To keep with the theme of Strawberry Cruizin’, this year’s festival includes an expanded classic car show featuring vehicles from the 1930s to 1970s.

The Paul Maurer Shows & Carnival will provide rides and other attractions during the festival. 

Fairpark gates will be open from noon to 10 p.m.

Saturday will be “Youth Day,” with ages 6 to 11 admitted for $5 and those 5 and under admitted for free.

Violinist Patrick Contreras at the Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival.
Patrick Contreras of Violin on Fine provides entertainment on Friday during the Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival. Credit: Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo

Monster Truck Thunder will take place Saturday at the Fairpark’s Minetti Arena. Gates open at 5 p.m., with the show starting at 7:30 p.m. This is a separate ticketed event in addition to regular festival admission.

Sunday is Fiesta Day, which will include a Hispanic concert and rodeo requiring separate tickets in addition to regular festival admission. For tickets to the concert and rodeo, go to

Festival tickets at the gate cost $15 for adults, $13 for youths ages 6 to 11 and people ages 62 or older, and free for children age 5 or younger. 

Carnival ride wristbands cost $40, and daily parking is $10. 

The Santa Maria Fairpark is at 937 S. Thornburg St. For more information, go to