The Strawberries & Art Festival was first held in 1976. The original idea came in May and by June a small fair with 27 booths was held on the lawn surrounding the Meeting House. Response to the first fair was so great that the strawberry supply was exhausted in the first two hours! In 1979, just three years after the original event, the fair outgrew the lawn area and moved over to the Common where it is still held. In the following years, with a more generous supply of berries and an increasing number of crafters, the fair grew to its current 77 booths.
Today, the organization of the fair begins in January as applications are sent to a selected group of vendors. As spring comes along, more volunteers begin their work of organizing the shortcake service, grill area, publicity and entertainment. Leaders are identified to handle the myriad details of organizing an event this large.
The pace accelerates during the final week preceding the fair. On fair day, the first workers are at the Common at 6:30 a.m. to stake out the booth boundaries. Vendors begin to arrive, as well as church volunteers, eager to set up their displays.
At 9:00 the big task of hulling 360 quarts of strawberries begins. Experience has taught us that many hands make light work. Volunteers from the church, community members who want a ‘hands-on’ fair experience and the Troop 159 Scouts work at tables throughout the Fellowship Hall. The youngest helpers look forward to the coveted job of mashing the berries.
By mid-morning, the fair is in high gear. Visitors are arriving, the grill is firing up, entertainment begins. The leaders keep an eye on the clock, moving preparations along so that shortcake, lemonade, berries and whipped cream, along with teams of servers, are out on the Common and ready to go as the Church bells chime the 12:30 hour.
The fair slowly winds down in the late afternoon. There is time for a little visiting or strolling the booths, relaxing before it is time to start the clean-up. With everyone tired, clean-up still proceeds smoothly. People offer each other a hand, knowing everyone is tired.
For most of us who work on the fair, this is the biggest party we will ever host! We go home tired but with a great sense of accomplishment, thankful that Strawberries & Art Festival comes but once a year.