The Garden Grove Strawberry Festival returns after a 2-year hiatus due to COVID, and organizers continue to give back

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (KABC) — After a two-year hiatus brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival is back in full force this weekend.

Many people who attended the event on Friday went for one thing: strawberries.

Since its inception in 1958, the event has evolved into a full-fledged carnival, attracting visitors of all ages, like George Garcia and his children.

“It’s just a great place for them to have fun because, you know, they haven’t been out too much since COVID, so now they can enjoy it,” he said.

Dawn Miller, one of the festival‘s 21 directors, said they were all volunteers except for their editor. Plus, all the fun goes towards a good cause.

The festival raises funds for non-profit organizations throughout Orange County and for municipal services.

“We give things away,” Miller said. “We donate appliances, roofs, buses, and items that nonprofits can use or repair for their buildings.”

One such organization is OC Autism. Founder and President Julie Diep said she has autism, as do her children.

Diep works to empower others on the spectrum.

“Our monkey, our mascot, he gets paid to be here, because we hire people on the spectrum,” she said. “We believe in educating, empowering and employing people with all abilities and simply helping them to be part of society.”

A cake cutting ceremony kicked off the event with a free strawberry shortcake. Seventy cake sheets and 40 strawberry dishes were used for a delicious treat.

The parade at the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival begins at 10 a.m. Saturday on Ninth St. and Chapman Avenue.

The festival will continue until Monday.

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