In many communtities, block parties bring people together for socializing and revelry and, generally, to provide an opportunity to mingle for neighbors who may never otherwise have a chance to do so. Over at Knott’s Berry Farm, the tradition of the block party was the inspiration for their themed event Summer Nights. On June 7, the party began as Summer Nights at Knott’s launched for the season, and the Weekly was invited to get in on the action.
Around 6:00 p.m., all of the activity throughout the Knott’s amusement park just before sundown is business as usual, with thrill rides, music, shows, and plenty of food options. Around twilight, Summer Nights takes flight in the midway area, around the Charleston Circle Fountain. At that point, a handful of specialty food stands opens up and offer varieties of exclusive Summer Nights fare, and while some of the eats there can be purchased directly, others may only be gotten through the use of a Summer Nights tasting card. For $35, the card provides eight tickets that can be redeemed for any combination of the event food or drink choices, including wines and craft beers.
While this reporter didn’t get down with the booze [maybe if they’d had Scotch or gin…], I did try a number of the food options. Given that there were 17 food choices, I had to sample strategically. What I can positively recommend are: fully loaded chili (onions, green onions, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese) served in a cornbread bowl, seasonal [boysenberry] sausage on a bun, the chicken and veggie skewer, the shrimp and sausage skewer, and the flavored lemonade. Were I to have had additional sampling tickets and an additional stomach, I would have also tried the chili corn chip pie, Farmer’s Market Shortcake, fudge dipped apple, and the cookie-wich (ice cream cookie sandwich).
At the same time the food stands opened, various games were set up for wandering guests to play. These included bean bag and ring toss games, giant Jengas, a large checkerboard set, etc. As the sun set, the area was illuminated with decorative lights and fixtures, and then the music began at 7:00 pm. Essentially, there were three areas in which musical acts would rotate by about half hour increments. On the Calico Mine Stage, local band Hiatus started the show performing covers of top 40s hits, while guests danced, watched from the numerous benches, or roasted marshmallows and made s’mores using the tabletop fire pits, which were scattered throughout the seating area.
Then the Summer Nights DJ started spinning from atop the Boardwalk Surf shop at 7:30. At the same time, on the south side of the Calico Park zone, Doug Legacy & The ZYDECO Cajun Party Band started their party. Throughout the park, other musical and performing acts continued throughout the evening — including the charming bluegrass trio the Ghost Town Miners and the Native American Dancer show, featuring a fascinating and informative presentation by Gary Wis-Ki-Ge-Amatyuk Jr.
As the summer goes on, the various bands will rotate per day. The other acts that will cycle through include: Tomasina, Hammerhands, and The Suffragettes. Public relations representative Diana Bahena pointed out, “We found some of the best bands that are very well known…They’re local bands from Orange County, and they perform at other locations [regularly and] have their own following.”
The Summer Nights event will continue bringing the spirit of the local block party to Knott’s until August 11. Discounted tickets can be purchased online, starting at $53 (plus taxes and fees) for a day pass. Since that price includes a full day of Knott’s entertainment, plus the post-sundown activity, when the flaming pits are ignited and the evening entertainment gets fired up, it’s a bargain for folks looking for a variety of family entertainment. For more ticketing information, visit their site.