Be prepared to pay more if you head to the Strawberry festival in Ponchatoula this weekend. A series of severe weather events have led to increased prices and less strawberries to go around.
Farmer Dale Robertson increased his prices from $12 last year for a flat, or 12 pints of strawberries, to $20 this year. He explains that February's deep freeze and then heavy rains the past few weeks have destroyed nearly 80 percent of his crop. "What happens is, is when that rain comes, you have to remove the berries off the bush and it just takes a week or so for them to come right back" Robertson says.
Robertson doesn't think the increased prices will stop people from buying the strawberries saying, "I think they're still going to buy them, I don't think we can them here fast enough, as soon as they come out of the field, picked fresh and as soon as we get them on the display, they'll be sold out."
Despite a shaky economy and higher priced items, festival organizers still have high hopes for this weekend. Festival chairperson Jody Borne says, "We've estimated last crowds were around 300,000 and we're expecting more this year. We've done a lot more advertising out of state."
The festival runs all weekend long. Jody Borne says because farmers have had to increase the price of strawberries, the price of rides and some of the amusements have been kept low this year, in an effort to try and help the customers.