The California Seaside City Known As The Strawberry Capital Of The World

CORRECTION 4/28/23: A previous version of this article stated the annual California Strawberry Festival is held in Oxnard, California. The festival originated there but is now located in Ventura, California.

California is the U.S. state that produces the most strawberries, but only one Golden State city, in particular, gets to hold the esteemed title of Strawberry Capital of the World. Oxnard, California, a coastal city between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, was home to the California Strawberry Festival from 1984 to 2019. However, strawberry growing in the area goes back at least a few decades further since California's ideal climate and soil conditions have made it a prime location for growing almost 90% of the country's juicy red fruits, according to California Strawberries

A long history of strawberry farming

Although Oxnard has been an agricultural hub since the 1870s, when an influx of European immigrants arrived, the strawberry industry began to flourish there after World War II. Some farms that still exist in Oxnard go back as far as the 1960s — such as Glen Hasegawa's, who shared with California Strawberries his grandfather built a 15-acre farm that has since turned into a 600-acre operation.

In total, the city boasts 6,600 acres of fruity farmland from 24 different companies, generating $100 million in annual revenue, America's Library shares. Oxnard isn't the only city that calls itself the Strawberry Capital of the World, but with an industry that ships almost 16 million trays of the fruits worldwide, it may be the most deserved.

The California Strawberry Festival started in Oxnard

If you love sweet summer strawberries, you'll be in heaven at the two-day-long California Strawberry Festival in May. In 1983, Oxnard City Councilman Dr. Tsujio Kato created the idea for the event, which ran for over three decades in the city until it was put on hiatus in 2019 due to the pandemic.

In 2023, the California Strawberry Festival will be moved to its new location at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, which are larger and have the structure in place to accommodate the over 85,000 visitors it can expect to attract. The festival boasts a plethora of creative strawberry snack options: you'll find classics like strawberry funnel cake and chocolate-dipped strawberries, as well as strawberry pizza, tamales, beer, and chimichangas. 

But there is more to do than just eat at the California Strawberry Festival. You'll also find booths selling arts and crafts by strawberry lovers from across the nation, live music, and a host of family-friendly activities.

Oxnard is still a serious strawberry destination

While the California Strawberry Festival may have found a new home in Ventura, you can still enjoy the bright red fruits of the area by visiting farmers markets — like the Channel Islands Harbor Farmers Market – and a variety of strawberry fields and stands in Oxnard.

Some farms even offer tours where you can learn about the growing and harvesting processes involved, and of course, some give you the option to pick your own fruit when it's strawberry season. For a tour and more info about the city's rich agricultural history, stop by the Oxnard Historic Farm Park on Tuesdays and Saturdays.