The arrival of carousel rides, food booths and strawberries all signify one thing at the Santa Maria Fairpark — the return of the Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival.
The 2019 edition will begin Friday and end Sunday. But on Thursday, a private gathering took place inside the Strawberry Pavilion to map out what’s coming back and what’s brand-new.
Shelly Cone, Fairpark public relations representative, first mentioned the new attractions coming to this year’s event — the ones coming with a set of wheels.
“This year, we have a few different things that are new: We have the monster trucks, the Moto X and the Quad Wars all happening on Saturday,” Cone said. “It’s been something we have thought about, but it did come together this time. We’re really excited about it. The aerials that these guys do are incredible.”
Additionally, the Santa Maria Discovery Museum will seek out kids willing to perform science experiments involving strawberries.
“They’re doing the strawberry DNA extraction,” Cone said.
Museum program director Amy Biasco explained what the children will be doing to get a strawberry’s DNA by mashing a strawberry, mixing it with a dissolving solution and pouring the result into a test tube, leaving the strawberry’s DNA sample floating above the red strawberry liquid.
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“We’re teaching kids that DNA is the building block of life,” Biasco said, adding the science activities are free.
Harry Mason, who is in charge of the festival rides, is also helping bring new attractions to the crowd this weekend.
“We have five new rides to the festival this year,” said Mason, who has 19 years experience working with the Strawberry Festival. “We have a strawberry ride, which we haven’t had in about 20 years.
"The Lost Mind is also new here, which is a dark ride that’s more of an adventure than scary ride," he continued. "Then the really nice rides are the Flying Elephants, which is imported from Europe. The elephants go up about 18 feet in the air and it’s controlled.
"Then we have the Star Tower, which is the tallest portable swing ride you can get. It’s 130 feet tall, also imported from Europe. Even on a foggy night, you can see it from far away.”
While there will be new features inside the Fairpark gates, there will be the return of a familiar face at the festival: Brian Landry, better known for “Chef Landry’s Comedy Cajun Cooking Show.”
Landry is making his second-straight appearance at the Fairpark.
But Landry, who had samples of his recipes on display inside the pavilion on Thursday, is another one experimenting with new ideas.
A new amusement park ride is promising to bring thrills and drops to Santa Maria later this month when it lands at the 2019 Santa Maria Strawberry Festival. Featuring four individually rotating benches attached to an arm, the OMG! will spin, twist and swing riders as they embark on what organizers have dubbed the "wildest ride on the Central Coast."
“What we’re doing this year is a little different: We’re doing strawberry dishes as well as some entrée dishes,” Landry said. “We also have a kid’s strawberry making ice cream contest.”
Overall, the main goal of the festival is to make the experience enjoyable as possible for the visitors, regardless if it’s the same attractions or new ones.
“We try to have some things the same every year, but we also try to bring in different stuff,” Mason said. “It’s not the same old, same old. We want everybody to have a good experience.”