The Coast News Group
Vista gears up for its signature event, the Tri-City Medical Center Vista Strawberry Festival, slated for May 27. The eighth annual event includes a 10K, 5K and Kids’ Run. Courtesy photo
Community Vista Vista Featured

Annual Strawberry Festival around the corner

It’s that time of year again as runners of all ages gear up for the Tri-City Medical Center Vista Strawberry 2018 Festival on May 27. Not a runner? No problem. The festival has plenty of activities, entertainment, food choices, vendors and more.

Bret Schanzenbach, CEO of the Vista Chamber of Commerce, said the festival is not only for Vistans but for everybody in the surrounding communities and beyond. In its eighth year, the festival day starts with the Strawberry Run 10K, 5K and Kids’ Run first thing in the morning.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Schanzenbach said. He added that when participants get to the finish line they not only get a “really cool finisher’s medal” but they also get strawberries.

He said the course is beautiful, starting and ending right in the festival area in downtown Vista.

“At the festival itself, we’re expecting 450 street fair vendors, six stages with live entertainment and contests all day long,” he said. “We have a big food court, huge Vista craft beer garden and carnival rides.”

More than 100,000 people take part in the day.

Schanzenbach said one stage is a community stage where local bands will play, dance groups will perform and martial arts aficionados can showcase their moves.

To put on a festival of this magnitude, Schanzenbach said that he and his team work on the event 12 months out of the year.

“We started immediately working on this one right after last year’s ended,” he said. “But it really picks up steam in October.

“You see, the event keeps growing, and that’s really the reason why it takes so much of a concerted effort because the event just keeps growing and growing,” Schanzenbach said. “For instance, this year, we’ve added another street to our street fair that we’ve never had before.”

The decision to add on another street was made because for the last two years the festival sold out of space. Schanzenbach explained there is a lot of preplanning behind the scenes including traffic control, city staff and more. Schanzenbach described the efforts as massive.

“Between my staff and my board, the number of hours we put into this festival is huge,” he said. “We pull in the neighborhood of 300 volunteers to help make the run happen and then to help with the actual festival itself.”

While so much time and dedication go into launching the festival, Schanzenbach said his team loves bringing people to downtown Vista for this signature event.

“We love showing off our revitalized downtown through this event,” he said. “We had nine new restaurants that either have opened or in the process of opening in Vista this year, and seven of them are in downtown.”

He added, “We have another new brewery that’s in the process of opening right now. We have this thriving, active downtown with public art that a lot of people may not know about so this festival gives us the opportunity to showcase it.”

To learn more about the Tri-City Medical Center eighth annual Vista Strawberry Festival on May 27, visit