Starting April 29th, The Santa Maria Fairpark will welcome visitors back to the first in-person Strawberry Festival since the pandemic began.
“Families can come and enjoy our carnival, our carnival food, our local eats," Rebecca Barks, Public Relations representative for the Santa Maria Fairpark, said. "We’ve got local vendors, businesses, and lots of entertainment.”
The Fairpark told KSBY they will go with the current COVID-19 guidance.
As of right now, the CDPH recommends people attending outdoor events should show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test. However, at this time, it is only a recommendation and not a requirement.
Last year, the Fairpark hosted a drive-thru event and saw about an 80% drop in attendance.
Before the pandemic, the Fairpark would see between 50,000 and 70,000 attendees at the festival.
The Santa Maria Fairpark said they would like to generate at least 75% of what they would typically make in revenue for a Strawberry Festival in a non-pandemic year.
"Since 2020, we've had in our convention center COVID testing and vaccination, and we still do now. They will close down for that time to allow us to set up, and perform our Strawberry Festival. Then, they'll come back for public use," said Barks.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, events stopped at the Fairpark until August 2021, when some in-person events resumed.
Barks explained, “We really just cut everything to bare bones. So we were we stopped watering. We stopped doing all of this. And now we're now we're back. Now we've got that income in that revenue coming in so it's really helping.”
The Fairpark lost about half their staff, with no revenue from events coming in at that time. They said they had to get creative.
The Fairpark held initiatives like community fundraisers and boosted visibility for their overnight camping. It is the only facility in Santa Maria that allows overnight camping for RV's.
“We're the biggest event center in Santa Maria Valley. COVID created a stop to that event, stopped us from doing anything," Barks added, mentioning that the Fairpark became a hub for COVID-19 testing at the time.
The Fairpark said there will not be RV camping during events, including the Strawberry Festival.
Another big ticket event, the Santa Barbara County Fair, will start on July 13th and go through the 17th.