Garden Grove, California is nationally recognized for its strawberry festival, one of the largest community events held in the western United States; or at least it was. Every Memorial Day weekend, The Big Strawberry, as it's affectionately known, receives an influx of around 250,000 visitors, hungry for a piece of the world's largest strawberry shortcake, eager to take in the celebrity-filled parade, or itching for a spin on one of the many carnival rides. That might be a bit difficult now, seeing as Garden Grove's last remaining strawberry field is no more.
Traditionally, the festival is a celebration of Garden Grove's agricultural past. Crops that included chili peppers, walnuts, oranges, sugar beets, and of course the famous Garden Grove strawberries were once abundant in the area. However, the last strawberry field at the corner of Hazard Avenue and North Euclid Street no longer exists, having recently been razed to make way for a property development.
So what is a town to do when the defining fruit of your famous festival no longer exists locally? You get them shipped in! The 2013 strawberry festival will go ahead, marking the 55th anniversary of the event, where strawberry shortcake will still be on the menu, as will all the other strawberry related treats, except this time the strawberries will be just like the tourists: out-of-towners. Mike Bennett, Orange County's deputy agricultural commissioner says, "It's maybe some of the best soil in the U.S. for strawberries", making the whole situation just a little more sad.