South Windsor Strawberry Fest: 'Eat, drink and be berry'
By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Thu., Jun. 6, 2013
The South Windsor Republican Town Committee invites you to “eat, drink and be berry” at the 31st Strawberry Fest, which will be held Saturday, June 15, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Rotary Pavilion in Nevers Road Park. "It's the biggest one-day strawberry fest in Connecticut," said Cary Prague, who - along with Kathy Daugherty, Billy Carroll, Sue Rose, Phil Koboski and John Mitchell - heads the Strawberry Fest planning committee.
Last year’s Strawberry Fest saw more than 10,000 people converging at Nevers Road Park to browse booths set up by crafters and vendors, hear live music, enjoy children’s activities, and, of course, to taste the signature treat of the festival, the prize-winning South Windsor Strawberry Fest strawberry shortcake. More than 5,000 strawberry shortcakes were sold last year, surpassing the committee’s sales goal by 1,000. "They are the undisputed world's best shortcakes," said Prague.
Thousands of strawberries will be hand-picked and cleaned by volunteers the day before the festival, so that each berry arrives fresh for the big day. As is tradition, the strawberries will be provided by Dzen Farm of South Windsor.
Crafters from throughout the region will have their wares for sale at the festival. There will be 150 crafters set up at the bottom of the Nevers Road Park slope, and 30 others will be situated at the premium location at the top, around Rotary Pavilion.
There will be many activities for children, including a petting zoo, face-painting by Catalina LaPointe of Amazing Face Art, a magic/balloon-art show by Joey DiDonna, miniature train rides and hay rides. Country band Skyline Drive will perform throughout the afternoon.
New this year is the highly-anticipated zip line ride. Participants will harness up at a 30-foot high station and slide down 200 feet to a 20-foot station. Tickets are $10, and family passes are available. With hundreds expected to line up for the ride, those who are interested can pre-pay for a fast pass ticket at <https://ezevent.com/Live/ZIPLineRidesattheStrawberryFest/06152013/50890>.
The Miss Strawberry Pageant, in which young girls don home-made strawberry themed costumes, will hold registration at 9 a.m. Pageants for the various age groups will run from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Age groups are 0-12 months, 12-24 months, 2-4 years, 5-6 years, and 7-8 years. To enroll a contestant, visit <http://www.southwindsorstrawberryfestival.com/pageantform.cfm>.
The Strawberry Fest has exploded in popularity since Jan Martha and John Mitchell started the event 31 years ago, and the committee has been quick to adapt to the growth. "We've improved some things this year," said Prague. Updates to the festival include a more streamlined queue-system for purchasing food. Last year, guests waited in multiple lines to get all the food they wanted, now all food lines have been condensed into one line. A new ticket book is also available for food. The committee has also hired officers for traffic control, ensuring that the vehicles get in and out safely and orderly throughout the day’s festivities.
Admittance is free, as are activities for children. But Prague is confident that a whiff of the coveted strawberry shortcakes will tempt any fest-goer to indulge. "If you want to come and not spend a penny, you can still visit the crafters, music and kids rides," said Prague. "But when you smell the food, you'll invariably want some."