Sweet Sweet Strawberries
It’s strawberry season, as if you didn’t notice the bucketfuls being sold in the markets and from trucks driving through your neighborhoods everywhere right now. Nonsan is Korea’s largest strawberry producer and the city welcomes people from near and far every spring for the Nonsan Strawberry Festival which took place this past weekend to the delight of many, myself included. Visitors can taste some of their delicious strawberries freshly picked from the strawberry fields nearby as well as other goodies all involving those delicious sweet seductive strawberries.
The highlight by far is hopping a board a shuttle bus that will take you from the festival grounds to one of the nearby strawberry farms. There are numerous farms in the area, so the festival spreads the love and buses visitors to different farms throughout the day, which also ensures there are enough strawberries for everyone. The trip is a short 10 to 15 minutes and upon arrival the farmer allowing visitors down his precious strawberry aisles explains how to properly pick the strawberries, by pulling up rather than down. The busload of people, which sounds like a lot but isn’t once everyone is inside the long covered rows of delicious smelling strawberries, head inside paying the farmer just W10,000 to eat as many strawberries as one can.
We’re told there’s a 30 minute time limit for munching, but 30 minutes comes and goes and though we may be one of the last lingering in the tent chowing down, no one seems to be in a rush. After our bellies are full and feeling slight achy from the massive amount of berries just consumed, we head to a tent next door where a small carton is provided to everyone as an added bonus. You can’t take any strawberries away from the eating tent, they’re all to be eaten on the spot, so the small carton to take home was a lovely surprise. An old woman inside pounds strawberry rice cake and offers free bites to taste and jars of jam and rice cake are being sold to patrons at very fair prices.
Back from the fields, the festival grounds offer up tons to see and partake in and plenty to eat of course. The strawberry goodies include strawberry makkoli (rice wine), strawberry cupcakes, strawberry cakes, strawberries dipped in chocolate, strawberry jam, strawberry & pepper paste and then there’s the vegetarian tent of food, soups, jjajjangmyeon, fishy pancakes, grills to have a grill out and more. There’s really something for everyone. There was free popcorn, cake decorating tents, a fondu dipping tent among other experience tents to partake in and plenty of strawberry statues and people in costumes to pose with.
Nonsan is a perfect day trip from Seoul and the strawberry goodness was totally worth the day out. If you missed it this year, there’s always next year. Be sure to check out the other spring festivals in Koreathat are worth the trips out and don’t miss your chance. These townie food oriented fests are the place to be for some great fun in the sun with some flowers and tasty treats this spring.
319-10, Daegyo-dong, Nonsan-si, Chungcheongnam-do
충청남도 논산시 중앙로 522
Train from Yongsan Station in Seoul to Nonsan Station, check the Korail Websitefor times. The shortest trip is on the KTX and takes around an hour and a half. (Book in advance!)
There are also buses from Central City Terminal in Seoul which should supposedly take the same amount of time as a train, but with traffic it’s hit or miss.
From the terminal there are signs directing you to the fair grounds.
Website: http://www.nsfestival.co.kr/(only in Korean)
When: early to mid-April
Cost: W10,000 for picking strawberries + the cost of food