OXNARD, CA — From 951 entries Kindergarten to 6th grade, the whimsical roller skating strawberry design of five-year-old Fatima Ponce from Hathaway Elementary School in Oxnard was selected as the grand prize winner of the 34th Annual California Strawberry Festival Youth Art Design Contest.
Last week, the Festival representatives orchestrated a surprise strawberry cupcake party and award presentation with her entire kindergarten class to celebrate the announcement. Young Fatima received a $100 gift certificate and a framed presentation of her design which will also be showcased before a crowd of thousands at the California Strawberry Festival May 20 and 21. Her teacher Norma Cortez, was awarded a $50 gift certificate. She and her fellow students also took home field-fresh strawberries from Nakamura Farms. A representative from Assembly member Jacqui Irwin’s office issued a certificate of recognition and Superintendent of Hueneme Schools Christine Walker joined in the festivities.
The hundreds of students who participated in the contest from school districts throughout Ventura County will also receive a free Festival ticket as an appreciation for their efforts.
Ponce’s colorful winning masterpiece features a smiling strawberry complete with eyelashes and a green-leaf crown, roller skating amidst a strawberry patch. After a class discussion about strawberries and how they grow in Oxnard, she and her classmates worked independently to express the Festival’s atmosphere and what the event means to the community. To create the design, Ponce used her imagination and positive outlook for the concept, and went to task with crayons.
“Art and language arts are her favorite subjects,” says proud teacher Cortez. “It’s very exciting for Fatima who is somewhat shy and often prefers to be by herself in the classroom. It’s wonderful that her design was recognized as a standout among submissions from students who are much older.”
“The Youth Art Design contest offers a unique way to engage children while spreading awareness of a celebration that pays tribute to the region’s rich agricultural heritage and gives back to communities,” says Festival Chairperson Kim Gibas. “The teachers do a terrific job to share the study plan with their students and art is the medium that connects it all together.”
“The California Strawberry Festival’s Youth Art Design Contest is a fantastic way for students to show their excitement for the Festival and our community through art,” said Assembly member Jacqui Irwin.
California Strawberry Festival general admission is $12, seniors 62+ are $8, and children ages 5-12 are $5. Kids 4 and under are free. Active military and dependents with ID are $8. Hours are 10:am to 6:30pm. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or in advance online. The California Strawberry Festival toll free information line is 888 288-9242. For tickets and info visit castrawberryfestival.org