Strawberries! On the North Fork, It’s Festival Time for This Fab Fruit

Every year Long Islanders look forward to the summer for a multitude of reasons; one of those being the fresh produce. We don’t have the luxury of being able to savor the fruits of our land as much as other places, like California, but once the warm weather rolls in, we flock to farm stands and farmers markets. One event, in particular, that highlights the wonderful produce Long Island has to offer is the Strawberry Festival in Mattituck, it’s sponsored by the Lion’s Club of Mattituck.

Starting on June 15, the 58th Annual Strawberry Festival will commence and the festivities continue until the 17th (Father’s Day). This event is not just fun for the family, but it is the largest fundraiser on the North Fork. The Strawberry Festival has grown from a little idea a few Lions members had back in 1955 to an extraordinary event that raises a large amount of money for charity, as well as enhancing the North Fork economy. The money raised is given to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, The Guide Dog Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes, and many more.

The Strawberry Festival is also a family activity that won’t break the bank. Anyone over six years of age only has to pay $2 for admission and since Sunday the 17th is Father’s Day, dads get in for free! There will be live music all weekend long, as well as amusement rides and over 120 booths of hand crafted items that make great gifts. But it wouldn’t be the Strawberry Festival without some strawberries. Festivalgoers will be able to enjoy freshly picked strawberries in every way imaginable; from strawberry shortcakes to daiquiris, even chocolate dipped strawberries. Of course, there will be other foods available, in addition to all of the strawberries, including gyros, funnel cakes and sausages.

This festival has become so big that it even has a queen! From the early days the Lion’s Club has chosen one young lady who stands out in academic success and participation in the community. On the Saturday of every festival year, a winner is chosen and crowned. The lucky young lady is awarded an academic scholarship and represents the Lion’s Club for the year.

If you’re feeling like luck is one your side, then you can enter the festival’s raffle by donating money to the Lion’s Club and get the chance to win up to $10,000. Also, if you are a local and interested in volunteering, all you have to do is go to the Volunteer’s Tent by the main entrance and they will put you to work. Another way in which anyone can contribute is by going to Hulling Night, which is the Thursday before the festival, June 14, and help pick and prep strawberries for all of the yummy treats served over the course of the weekend.

Besides all of the tasty food and fun rides, this festival is great because it goes on whether the sun is shining or not. The Strawberry Festival is a great way to kick off the summer, especially with the fireworks on the 15th.

But if you’re not the festival type, but still want to enjoy the fresh produce, there are many farms that offer pick-your-own.

As you drive along Route 25 or Sound Avenue, you will come across many farm stands, some of which will have signs that say, “Pick your own.” Such farm stands include, Harbes Family Farms and Lewin Farms. Or stop by the Davis Peach Farm to load up on the goods. If you want to be strictly organic, Garden of Eve and Golden Earthworm are both organic farms that offer pick-your-own berries.

So, whether you decide to take the family to the Strawberry Festival or just strawberry picking, it is sure to be a great time. Enjoy the summer days!

Annual Strawberry Festival, Martha Clara Event Grounds, 584 Herrick’s Lane, Riverhead. More info at www.mattituckstrawberryfestival.org.   

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