Annual festival honor state fruit
Sophomore nursing major Jordyn Barlow, Phi Mu fraternity, hands off a bowl of strawberry ice cream to a patron. Other fraternities sold food items like shrimp po-boys, strawberry shortcake, strawberry beignets and pastalya to raise money for their designated charities. Sara Patrick
Tim Matthews won the 18 and up Strawberry Eating Contest for the tenth year in a row. Matthews was congratulated by Queen Gabrielle with a Easter themed treat. Nicole Koster
The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival offers a wide variety of strawberry snacks brought to the public by community members and Southeastern Greek Organizations. Tri Sigma sells strawberry beignets each year. Sara Patrick
Queen Gabrielle and King Wayne Richie Howe take a break from the festival together before going on stage to watch the Strawberry Eating Contest. Nicole Koster
From left to right, Shelby McNemar, Eddie Barker and Helen Barker volunteer at the souvenir table. Nicole Koster
The air was filled with sweetness this weekend in Ponchatoula, the self-proclaimed strawberry capital of the world. The city turned into one big festival ground for the 43rd annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival, and Memorial Park hosted the action where Ponchatoula farmers were selling their fresh, sweet, juicy strawberries in an array of possibilities. Strawberry shortcake, dark and white chocolate covered strawberries, strawberry beignets, strawberry tarts, strawberry daiquiris and strawberry snowballs were among the options offered by over 60 vendors. Members of Greek organizations participate in the festival each year by selling food and strawberry desserts.
Volunteers put on the festival every year during the first weekend in the first full week of April. Louisiana is a festival-centric state, and even though the French Quarter Festival was happening the same weekend down in New Orleans, volunteer Helen Barker of the Ponchatoula Kiwains Club says this festival stands out among the others because of its laidback environment under the spring sun.
"The strawberry fest is such a family friendly environment, its very family oriented," said Barker, who was working the souvenir table with her son and daughter. "I've been volunteering here for many years, and I just love it. The weather this weekend was perfect too."
In 1973, 11 booths lined one block of N. 6th street, along Memorial Park, where farmers, schools, churches and various non-profit organizations raised money by selling strawberries to honor the local farmers. According to the Ponchatoula Times, 15,000 people went to the first festival and today the crowds have grown, pumping $33 million into the local economy. People from all across the nation come to taste the locally grown Ponchatoula strawberry. The fruit was named the state fruit in 2001 by the Louisiana Legislation.
Traditionally, the crowd from the festival spills into downtown Ponchatoula, where more farmers sell their berries. Farmer's Row offers strawberries from local farmers. Homemade strawberry preserves, salad dressings and syrups were a few items sold by Linda Tamburello. Her booth this year was different, however, breaking a tradition she has kept for 43 years. Her and a few other farmers' booths were moved from the traditional Farmer's Row to Hickory Street.
"Being on the back road has cost us some business," Tamburello said.
Mary Gordon drove from Vicksburg, Miss. to eat some Ponchatoula strawberries. Gordon was a first timer at the festival this year and says it was even better than she imagined.
"I'm in love [with] it all," Gordon said. "The bands are good, the food is great, but the strawberries are even better."
The fair grounds with rides, games and live music are in Memorial Park between N. 6th and N. 7th Streets but Downtown Ponchatoula businesses, and the surrounding blocks all join in on the party and craft vendors set up on NW Railroad Avenue. There are sack races and a strawberry eating contest, on a first come, first serve basis and locals know all too well they must defend their title. The winner of the 18 and up age group was Tim Matthews, a ten-year veteran and strawberry eating contest champion. He gets up on stage each year to "keep the streak alive," said Matthews.
There is no entrance fee, like many other Louisiana festivals. The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival is the second largest free festival in Louisiana, second only to Mardi Gras. Contestants in the strawberry eating contest got to keep the berries that didn't make it into their mouth and they didn't have to pre-register, the live music by The River City Hot Sqaud, Nonc Nu, Top Cats, Chase Tyler, Passing-Outlaws and Todd O'Neil was free and all money made goes back to support the local farmer.
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
More lionsroarnews News Articles
Recent lionsroarnews News Articles
Discuss This Article
MOST POPULAR LIONSROARNEWS
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
- HRAC holds annual Membership Gala
- Bunko for Basketball makes a comeback
- The Contemporary Art Gallery displays senior work for final semester exhibition
- Three victories for track and field at LSU
- The Southeastern Promise to implement rate freeze for incoming freshmen
- From Iraq to Broadway: Marsh shares his accounts of being in the military and...
- Alumni Association holds Golden Silence for deceased alumni
RECENT LIONSROARNEWS CLASSIFIEDS
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- Four Tech Tools That Can Help Your Small Business Grow
- Streaming Content Box Cuts Your Cable and Costs
- Non-Profit Venture Fund Seeks to Support The American Dream
- Sustained Happiness Starts from Within
- Reverse Mortgages Benefit Younger Seniors
- Sunshine State Shining New Light on the Banking Industry
- Honoring Moms : How 3 Inspiring Women are Changing the World
- Look Before You Buy: Virtual Reality Comes to Home...
- Olympic Power Couple Teams Up to Fight Blood Cancers with...
- Two Meals in One: Arborio Rice, Perfect for Risotto &...
COLLEGE PRESS RELEASES
- American U. professor predicts Trump will be impeached in new book
- Comic Book and Sports Card Show
- A Harvard Dean's 5 Essential Questions for Success
- COLLEGE STUDENTS: DO THESE THREE THINGS THIS SUMMER TO BOOST YOUR FINANCES
- Annual PepsiCo/SWE Student Engineering Challenge Gives Undergraduates Real-World Engineering Practicum