Festival Theme is Mardi Gras Berries
By Matt Bayman
For the first time ever, the Troy Strawberry Festival will be located in the downtown historic district, rather than along the levee next to the Great Miami River.
Taking place June 1-3, the festival is moving downtown for this year only due to the closing of the Adams Street Bridge. In years past, Adams Street has acted as a main thoroughfare for the annual festival, which celebrates Troy’s place as the center of Ohio’s strawberry production. The theme for this year’s festival is Mardi Gras Berries and there will be a number of activities and entertainment reminiscent of the Big Easy.
“This isn’t your typical Troy Strawberry Festival with the bridge being closed, but it’s going to be an opportunity to showcase the downtown, and with the theme being ‘Mardi Gras,’ it should be an opportunity to highlight some of our restaurants, including LeDoux’s (Cajun restaurant),” said Troy Mayor, Mike Beamish.
Along with downtown businesses taking a more active role in the festival, the location and theme should create an interesting vibe.
The midway for this year’s festival, which contains dozens of arts and craft booths, food vendors that serve everything from strawberry shortcake and donuts to strawberry pie and pork tenderloins, as well as numerous entertainment areas, will be located along West Main Street and several side streets. The entire festival midway will span more than five blocks and will also spread into nearby parks and recreational facilities, including Hobart Arena and the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center. On the east end of the midway is Prouty Plaza – an open grass area where musical entertainment will take place on the Main Stage, as well as other entertainment for all ages. Some of the highlights for this year’s entertainment schedule include the Strawberry Idol competition, the Strawberry Pie Eating Contest and performances by numerous local and regional bands.
Although there will not be a parade on Saturday morning this year (due to traffic issues), Troy Strawberry Festival Manager Heather Dorsten said “visitors can enjoy a Mardi Gras processional at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The processional will travel along West Main Street and the Troy High School Jazz Band will lead the way with the sounds of Bourbon Street in true Mardi Gras form.”
“We are also hosting a Mardi Gras raffle with great prizes and a wonderful souvenir booth where you can get your beads and other strawberry festival-themed gear,” she added.
Dorsten said another Mardi Gras-themed event will be music by Robin Lacy and DeZydeco from 6-8 p.m. Saturday at LeDoux’s Restaurant, located at 118 W. Main St. directly inside of the festival midway.
Although a bulk of the Strawberry Festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, it officially begins at 6 p.m. Friday evening with food and entertainment in the downtown and the popular Bed Races at 7 p.m. in the parking lot of Hobart Arena. For many people, the Friday night events are among the most popular, providing a chance for visitors to experience the small town charm and annual rituals of Troy residents. Also on Friday night is a children’s parade and the equally famous Big Wheel Races that take place at 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Shops remain open late and there are almost a dozen restaurants to dine at in the downtown area.
Some other attractions to take note of during the festival weekend are airplane rides at WACO Field, live music at the Leaf & Vine and Dunaway’s Beef N’ Ale on Saturday (also both located inside of the midway) and pick-your-own-strawberries at Fulton Farms, located on State Route 202 just east of Troy. Visitors can also buy strawberries inside of the Fulton Farms market, also located on State Route 202.
Due to a lack of parking in the downtown, festival organizers are encouraging visitors to use four different free shuttle services, which operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. The shuttles are located at WACO Field on County Road 25-A between Tipp City and Troy, Club 55 on State Route 55, Meijer on State Route 41 and the Miami County Fairgrounds, located on County Road 25-A between Troy and Piqua.
“The shuttle drops you off right at the festival location,” Dorsten said.
To plan your visit to Troy during the Strawberry Festival, visit www.gostrawberries.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Matt Bayman at MattBayman@DaytonCityPaper.com