Troy Strawberry Festival

All you need to know, before you go

By Emma Jarman

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Characters in the Strawberry Festival parade.

It’s prime strawberry growing weather: 85 degrees, sunny but cooler in the shade. The wind hasn’t blown hot, yet, and the sky only threatens rainstorms in the evenings. It’s the kind of weather that makes you want to sit on a wrap-around porch swing, give a Labrador a scratch behind the ears and drink sweet tea while the willow tree waves. It’s the kind of weather that beckons for picnics and running through sprinklers even though you’re 30 years old. It’s the kind of weather that makes this year’s Troy Strawberry Festival (June 4 and 5) the place to be as the levee flows with reckless abandon and shortcake browns in food cart windows.

There are wicker antiques to be bought and strawberry salsa to be critiqued. There are crafts to be sold and children’s fingers just waiting to be gummed up with tempura paint. Crowds will swell and recede like the ebb and flow of the beautiful levee setting, and strollers will meander like the Great Miami River that runs from the site.

The Troy Strawberry Festival is the City of Troy’s largest annual fundraiser for local not-for-profit’s and charities. In 2010, local non-profit groups were able to raise more than $350,000. This year, with a “Berry Thankful Hearts” theme, the festival hopes to match or exceed and will run from June 4 to 5, beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday morning with the parade downtown. In true, vintage-Troy fashion, the Strawberry Queen and Junior Miss Strawberry winners of the week before will wave festival-goers on and ride the fruits of their decorational labors, floating down the winding way.

“We asked our non-profits to try and decorate their food booths in that theme as well as our parade. Our children’s parade on Friday night also tries to keep with that kind of theme,” said Heather Dorsten, the Troy Strawberry Festival general manager.

Over 70 local Miami County non-profits participate in this annual fundraiser. Shoes for the Shoeless, who just won the Pepsi Challenge, will be selling strawberry BBQ pulled pork; The Chamber of Commerce will be touting their famous roasted chicken; The Optimist’s will continue their tradition of hocking their famous bottled sauces while encouraging participation in a number of games and contests.

A good place to start, after finding a parking spot between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday or 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday, of course, is at the informational booth across from the gazebo. Here, you can find maps of the festival and the area, which organize booths and vendors in the most geographically accurate of orders. You can get lists of events, projects and snacks, and find out from Strawberry Festival veterans the pages to earmark in the souvenir cookbooks.
Other ways to get nice and nostalgic at this year’s 35th annual Troy Strawberry Festival include seeing One, a U2 tribute band that will be performing Saturday afternoon on one of the three free stages on the levee. There will be a volleyball tournament on the Great Miami River flood plain, sand court and all, at 9 a.m., and the Classic 10K Run and the Shortcake Special run (2,000 meters) will take off from the Troy High School Stadium at 8:30 a.m. and 8:35 a.m., respectively.

Most children’s activities will be held Saturday afternoon and include a strawberry pie-eating contest (lower levee; 1:30 p.m.), a Little Miss and Mr. Strawberry pageant (Main Stage on the levee; 1:30 p.m.), a children’s treasure hunt (Troy City Park; 2:00 p.m.) and a strawberry kids crawl (Great Miami River flood plain; 3:30 p.m.).
“We also have a big NASA display that’s coming this year,” said Dorsten. “It’s a 3-D exhibit called the Exploration Experience. It’s an historical and hands-on experience [for kids].”

As in any festival worth its bulk in berries, the Troy Strawberry Festival, too, has a grand marshal. This year’s selection is Operation Cloverleaf. This group takes on the selfless responsibility of providing free beautification to the Troy area. The appointment is fitting since a pretty place to eat strawberry feats and peruse local, handmade arts and crafts is important to the 75,000 to 100,000 people that are expected at this year’s event.

“Our arts and crafters come from 13 different states,” said Dorsten. “From Florida to Arizona, they come in from everywhere!”

This is the last year, however, that nationwide strawberry sommeliers will be able to drive their Chevys to the levee for the Troy Strawberry Festival. Next year, the gathering will be moving downtown to Main Street in Troy due to the closing of the Adams Street Bridge.

But, be it by breezeway or busline, horse-drawn buggy or Volkswagen Beetle, get thee to the Troy Strawberry Festival. However, please leave your Labrador on the porch because no pets are allowed unless assisting someone with a disability.

For more information on the Troy Strawberry Festival, and for a complete list of events and vendors, visit
www.gostrawberries.com.

Reach DCP editorial intern Emma Jarman at EmmaJarman@daytoncitypaper.com.

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