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West wide open: Strawberry festival kicks off summer

Some 8,000 people attended the two-day Happy Valley Strawberry Festival in Northern California, as crowds around the U.S. emerged for boisterous post-pandemic gatherings on Memorial Day weekned.
An estimated 8,000 people attend two-day festival in rural Shasta County, Calif., as the nation resumes large gatherings.

An estimated 8,000 people attended the two-day Happy Valley Strawberry Festival in Northern California, as crowds around the U.S. emerged for boisterous post-pandemic gatherings on Memorial Day weekend.

Servings of fresh strawberry shortcake with vanilla ice cream were a welcome feature as the region experienced its first weekend of triple-digit temperatures this season.

"It's great," said Sarah Beer, a member of the Happy Valley Community Foundation, which sponsored the event. "It's so wonderful to see so many people having a good time."

The annual festival at West Valley High School near Cottonwood, Calif., in rural Shasta County, is held to celebrate the region's strawberry industry. While most strawberries are produced in Southern California and the Central Coast, far Northern California is home to a vibrant strawberry plant industry.

Shasta County's nursery stock generated $8.8 million in value in 2019, according to the county's latest crop report. In neighboring Siskiyou County, strawberry crops alone generated $133.3 million in revenue that year, the county agricultural commissioner's office observed.

The festival was one of scores of events and gatherings to draw huge crowds over the weekend, as people were anxious to get out after more than a year of coronavirus lockdowns and closures. Nearly 40 million Americans were expected to travel by car or plane, according to the Daily Mail.

Beach lifeguards and park rangers prepared for a big holiday weekend, and Saturday, May 30, was the biggest day since before the pandemic for businesses at San Francisco's iconic Fisherman's Wharf, according to the CBS affiliates in Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively.

Here are some of the sights from the Happy Valley Strawberry Festival.

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