Troy Strawberry Festival still going strong
By Gary Spencer
Photo: Last year, an estimated 100,000 people attended the Troy Strawberry Festival; photo: Tall James Photography
After 30-some years of the Troy Strawberry Festival, one thing is for certain – the Miami Valley definitely loves strawberries. Ever since 1977, the city of Troy has shared its ripe season of growing the delectable fruit with the entire Miami Valley and this coming weekend, for the 38th time for anyone not keeping count, Troy will once again hold its annual weekend of all things strawberry and, more importantly, community-oriented.
Not a lot has changed over the years. According to Debbie Char, publicity committee chairperson for the 2014 Strawberry Festival, this year’s main goal is very much like the inaugural event nearly 40 years ago.
“The festival was started in 1977 as a family-friendly community event that was also designed as a means for the non-profit organizations in Miami County to raise funds,” Char said. “That mission continues today.”
With proceeds from this coming weekend, the Troy Strawberry Festival will help raise funds to help out organizations such as The Arc of Miami County, Partners in Hope, Miami County Special Olympics, Boy Scouts and a myriad Troy churches and youth sports organizations. This mantra also ties in with the theme for the 2014 edition of TSF: “Home. Grown. Berries.” This theme was selected by 2014 Troy Strawberry Festival Chairperson Kathi Roetter as an extension of the “Home. Grown. Great” branding adopted by Miami County, which illustrates how the city of Troy, Miami County and the festival itself are synonymous with community pride.
Speaking of community activity, there are plenty of activities being held under the 2014 Troy Strawberry Festival banner that speak to the amount of commitment and involvement the citizens of Troy and Miami County have in this annual event. Things kick off Friday night with food and events in and around Hobart Arena and Adams Street. Some of the scheduled activities include the children’s parade that kicks the festivities off at 6 p.m. that evening and other community favorites including the Children’s Big Wheel Race and the Strawberry Festival favorite, the “Bed Races,” where teams will be racing in an actual bed or something resembling a bed against the clock. The winners take home a trophy and bragging rights. For a special twist, Friday – often referred to as Hometown night – will also hold a Troy/Piqua Alumni football game at Troy Memorial Stadium. Shops around the area will remain open late so visitors new to the Troy area can experience the small town charms of the city just to the north of Dayton proper.
Plus, the 2014 Troy Strawberry Festival will inhabit more physical space than ever before. Not only will the TSF be held at its familiar stomping grounds along the Great Miami River levee, but it will also be spreading its fun across one city block all around the square in downtown Troy. This new setup, approved after months of meetings and negotiations between the festival chairs and Troy city officials, will allow visitors to partake in the small town charms of Troy and support Troy’s mom and pop businesses.
Of course, for those regular attendees, there will be more than the standard fare they’ve come to expect at the Troy Strawberry Festival this year. Other highlights on the Saturday and Sunday TSF schedule include the 10K Classic Run, the Shortcake Run for youth, Bike Tour, Bike Time Trials, Tennis Shootout, Softball Tournament and the Berry Special Olympics being among the many athletic contests being held. Other entertainment – such as the climbing wall, cornhole tournament and car show – will take place down on the familiar terrain of the river levee side.
But make sure you make time – and room in your stomach – for the many forms of strawberry-based deliciousness that will be available at the fest. Well over 70 food vendors will be on hand to peddle virtually anything you can make and/or eat with strawberries, with all proceeds benefiting their local non-profit organization of designation.
“The Senior Citizens Center will once again be selling strawberry shortcake and the Troy Music Boosters will be cooking up their legendary strawberry donuts,” Char said. “Romer’s catering will (also) be cooking dinners, the profits of which will be split amongst four non-profit groups this year.”
And you needn’t worry whether there will be enough to go around – last year an estimated 100,000 people came to Troy to get their fix of strawberry and local vendors were able to raise more than $40,000 for their non-profit or charity of choice. The Troy Strawberry Festival is all about giving back to the community while you take plenty of strawberries – and other yummy foodstuffs – into your anxiously awaiting stomach.
The Troy Strawberry Festival takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 6-8 in downtown Troy and the Great Miami River levee. Admission is free to the public. For more information, please visit gostrawberries.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.