Join in the fun! From our famous Tart Toss and Strawberry Shortcake Eating Contests to watching professional and celebrity chefs battle it out on stage. You won’t want to miss these epic berry-best battles.
Contests at the Festival
Berry Blast Off Recipe Contest
Presented by Ventura County Star
Saturday, May 14th @ 1:30 pm at the Festival Stage
There’s no holding back when two finalists go head-to-head in a timed culinary quest to prepare the ultimate strawberry dish as they vie for top honors and the coveted grand prize vacation getaway. Contestants should be mindful that if selected as one of five semi-finalists, they compete in a timed “Iron Chef” approach that requires them to prepare their recipe for a panel of judges.
2023 Applications Coming Soon!
Previous Winners’ Recipes
Strawberry Tart Toss
Daily at 11:00am and 2:30pm at the Contest Area
Ready set goooooo! Take aim for in-your-face fun.
Strawberry Shortcake Eating
Daily at 1:00pm and 4:00pm at the Contest Area
A timed challenge you can really sink your teeth into. Devour every last bite of strawberry pie, sans utensils. Available to contestants 13 years of age or older.
Strawberry Baby Fashion Show
Daily at 2:45 pm at the Jest in Time Family Fun Stage
Open to infants up to four years of age. Youngsters, with the help of their parents, parade across the stage to the “oohs and aahs” from the crowd. All participants receive recognition. Sign up at the Jest in Time Family Fun Stage 30 minutes prior.
Presented by Fruli
Sunday, May 15th @ 1:30 pm at the Festival Stage
Two Ventura County celebrity chefs go spoon-to-spoon in a Food Network-inspired Chopped style cooking challenge where they must create a strawberry dish that is not only sensational but must utilize key ingredients they only discover once the showdown begins. Find out who will win the Strawberry Smackdown trophy!
2019 Smackdown Winner:
Executive Pastry Chef Julia San Bartolome owns Sweet Arleen’s bakery in Westlake Village and is a three time winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. A Ventura resident, she has a passion for all things food related. She holds a degree in pastry arts from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.
2023 Contestants Coming Soon!
Elementary School Youth Art Design Contest
Each year, the Festival reaches out to Ventura County school districts inviting teachers and their K through 6th-grade students to create a colorful strawberry design as part of their curriculum highlighting Ventura County’s rich agricultural heritage. All students who submit a design receive a free ticket to the Festival. Finalists receive recognition and prizes. To enter please download and submit the application found below.
2019 Contest – Out of 1,076 entries received from kids in kindergarten through sixth grade throughout Ventura County, the creative strawberry design by 10-year-old Alan Sanchez from McKinna Elementary School in Oxnard was selected as the grand prize winner of the 36th Annual California Strawberry Festival’s Youth Art Design Contest.
In honor of his accomplishment, Festival representatives threw a surprise strawberry cupcake party and award presentation April 24 with Sanchez’s after-school class joining in and his parents looking on. Sanchez received a $100 gift certificate, a t-shirt with his design and a framed presentation of his artwork, which will be displayed at the California Strawberry Festival.
2020 Applications Have Closed
As a symbol of each annual celebration, we showcase original work from the winner of our poster contest. It’s been a part of the Festival’s heritage since our inception and has grown to become a coveted honor of recognition. The grand prize winner receives $2,000 and their creation could be used as the official artwork for the Festival with branding and souvenir posters, collectible t-shirts and merchandise. In 2017 we opened up our submissions to include the digital arts.
Congratulations to Kimberly Duran, our 2020 artwork contest winner. Her design conveys her message of love and her love of strawberries. Recently, Duran has been on a campaign to spread love, including love of culture and community, through her artwork. As a muralist, her designs are on display in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The festival poster is her first work in Ventura County. “I happen to love strawberries. I eat them every morning,” says Duran. “The shape of a strawberry reminds me of a heart. I used the concept of hands making a heart symbol and a heart-shaped strawberry within the hands to spread love and the love of strawberries.”
2023 Fan Favorite Battle of the Bands
Presented by Cumulus Media
Submit your application for a chance to be chosen as one of the finalists who will duke it out on social media in our annual Battle of the Bands contest!
Applications coming soon!