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Strawberries as outreach: Church festivals throughout Carroll celebrate the juicy, red fruit and giving back

Juicy, red, sweet strawberries are a promise that summer is on the way. Longer days and lightning bugs make us hope, but ripe strawberries are the real deal. Celebrate the harvest with strawberries drizzled over shortcakes or ice cream at festivals across the county.

Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sykesville will hold its 27th annual Strawberry Festival on June 3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the grounds of Sykesville Freedom District fire company.

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This festival began all those years ago as a way for the church to raise funds for a new fellowship building, but it quickly grew.

"We are the largest strawberry festival in the county," said strawberry festival chairperson, Leigh Johnston. "Last year we had 2,200 pounds of strawberries."

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Myriad strawberry shortcakes topped with whipped cream can be purchased at their strawberry shortcake booth, but berries will also be sold by the quart and over Hoffman's ice cream. Look for baked goods, snowballs and a food booth that begins with breakfast sandwiches and works its way into lunch with barbeque, hot dogs, hamburgers, roast beef sandwiches and more.

The festival offers games, pony rides, a silent auction, craft and antique vendors, a white elephant booth, a moon bounce, face painting and wagon hay rides, and proceeds go to charitable needs.

"The church gives proceeds to various local charities such as Neighbors in Need, Carroll County Food Sunday, ELCA [Evangelical Lutheran Church in America], Carroll Lutheran Village, Carroll Lutheran School, the Gettysburg Seminary, Philadelphia Seminary, Mar Lu Ridge, Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Campus Ministry Baltimore, Lutheran Campus Ministry Maryland, Escape, and others," Johnston said.

At a Strawberry Festival at Linwood Brethren Church, families enjoy the food and the ice cream.
At a Strawberry Festival at Linwood Brethren Church, families enjoy the food and the ice cream. (courtesy photo)

Entertainment throughout the day will include; Merritt Dance, the Carroll County Cloggers, Savage Dance Company, the Glyndon Area Players, the Carroll County Dance Center, Stepping Stars Dance, Sykesville Tae Kwon Do Academy, Sykesville Raiders Cheerleading, Maryland Tang Soo Do Karate, Sykesville Tae Kwon Do Academy, Carroll Gymnastics and Tri Star Martial Arts.

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"The Festival is a community event with something for the entire family at affordable prices," Johnston said.

Zion United Methodist Church will hold its 11th annual Strawberry Festival on June 3 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the church in Shipley.

"We had the crab cakes last year and they went over so well that we are having them again," said Marvin Hollinger from the church. "And of course, we will have Baugher's strawberries and Hoffman's ice cream."

Hollinger said to look for crab cake or fried chicken platters with a choice of two side dishes (string beans, homemade potato salad or applesauce) plus iced tea.

Attendees are invited to bring a lawn chair and sit a spell. Iron Ridge band will play from 4 to 7 p.m.

"Kids can play on our swings and boat and we have a Ga Ga court, too," Hollinger said. "That's a fun ball game for kids, played in a wooden frame. You don't pick up the ball; it has to be kicked.

Hollinger said festival proceeds go to the United Methodist Men and Ladies groups and their outreach efforts within the community.

"This is a community tradition," he said. "It has really grown over the years and is a big success for us. We are proud of all our little church does."

Many of Carroll's summer festivals feature strawberries from Baugher's Orchards. Baugher's, itself, offers pick-your-own strawberries, among other fruits and vegetables. Their "pick your own" hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week, throughout June.

St. Mary's Evangelical Lutheran Church will hold its annual Strawberry Festival on Saturday, June 3 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the church in Silver Run.

Church outreach committee chairman, Jim Crist said their strawberries are from Baugher's. They'll sell them by the quart and with ice cream.

Look for yard sale items, handmade crafts, a white elephant table, good food in the kitchen and strawberries galore. They'll have fried chicken, barbeque, hotdogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken corn soup, chicken salad, chips and beverages.

Crist said the church craft group meets weekly year-round, making handmade items to be sold at the festival. They include decorative pavers painted to look like animals, tea towels and bath towel sets, centerpieces, baby and adult bibs, pillows, planters, flower pots and more.

Proceeds benefit Carroll County Rape Crisis, The Shepherd's Staff, missionaries and special needs of the church. Ten percent goes to the Delaware/ Maryland Synod of ELCA.

Crist encourages the community to join them for a day of celebration and fellowship, strawberries, ice cream and more.

"Come out and enjoy the strawberries and ice cream and our good food, especially the fried chicken platters," Crist said.

St. Luke's (Winters) Lutheran Church will hold its Strawberry Festival at the New Windsor church on June 3 from 2 to 7 p.m.

Church member, Alice Cheeks said they brought back their strawberry festival in 1983 as a way to celebrate the church's 200th birthday. They didn't expect to make money off their 25 cent hotdogs, but they did.

"And we are still making money off our 25-cent hot dogs," she said with a laugh.

In addition to strawberries by Baugher's and Hoffman's ice cream, attendees can purchase fried chicken platters, chicken salad sandwiches, soup, side dishes and beverages. They can also visit a bake sale table with homemade goods.

"We will have a treasures table with yard sale items and games for kids," Cheeks said. "The William F. Myers band will play from 4 to 7 p.m."

When asked why the strawberry festival is a fun time Cheeks grew nostalgic.

"The history of the church is a big thing," she said. "But I think community fellowship is the most important. And then there's the good food, of course."

Linwood Brethren Church in Union Bridge will hold its Strawberry Festival at the church on June 17 from noon to 6:30 p.m.

Strawberry Festival Committee Chairperson, Joan Myers said the festival started in the 1930s but at some point, they stopped holding it. Then, in the 1960s the youth group started a peach festival.

"When we found, the peaches weren't ripening when we needed them we switched it back to a strawberry festival like it had been many years before and moved it back to June," Myers said.

Piles of strawberries at Messiah Lutheran Church's annual Strawberry Festival at Sykesville Freedom District fire company.
Piles of strawberries at Messiah Lutheran Church's annual Strawberry Festival at Sykesville Freedom District fire company. (courtesy photo)

Everything at this Strawberry Festival is free, according to Myers, but they do take donations.

"We do it as an outreach for the community," she said. "Everything is by donation, even our sandwiches, ice cream and strawberries. We've found you sometimes make even more when asking for donations. Last year we were able to give $1,000 to both [The] Shepherds Staff and the Westminster Rescue Mission and we gave a donation to the New Windsor Fire Company."

Music at the festival includes tunes by the Never Too Late Band, a pair of singers called Morning Sky and church member, Phil Frazier.

"We have an antique car display, and children's activities like a moon bounce, face painting and balloon art. And all of it is at no charge," Myers said.

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Look for barbeque sandwiches, chicken salad, hot dogs, chili dogs, kraut dogs and side dishes like green beans, macaroni salad, fruit salad and Cole slaw. The bake sale table will have cookies, brownies fudge, cakes and pies, and strawberry jam.

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"We also have milkshakes — chocolate and strawberry," Myers said. "But the main thing is our strawberry pies. We have a live auction when the music takes a break with the strawberry pies, decorated cakes and other baked goods."

Myers calls the festival a nice laid-back country event. She said church members gather together to pick strawberries, cap them, bake pies and make jam, and that makes it special.

"It is all about working together, enjoying each other's company, and that God provided the fruit and we have this fellowship. We want to do this as an outreach and let people know we are the little brick church on the hill."

Strawberry Festivals

What: Messiah Lutheran Church 27th annual Strawberry Festival

Where: Sykesville Freedom District fire company, 6680 Sykesville Rd, Sykesville

When: June 3 - from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For information: 410-795-9174 or strawberry@melchurch.org

What: Zion UMC 11th annual Strawberry Festival

Where: Zion United Methodist Church, 2716 Old Washington Road in Westminster

When: June 3, from 3 to 7 p.m.

For information: 410-857-4444

What: St. Mary's Evangelical Lutheran Church Strawberry Festival

Where: 3978 Littlestown Pike, Westminster, MD

When: Saturday, June 3 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For information: Call the church at 410-346-7146.

What: Linwood Brethren Church Strawberry Festival

Where: 575 McKinstry's Mill Road in Union Bridge

When: June 17 from noon to 6:30 p.m.

For information: 410-775-2200

What: St. Luke's (Winters) Lutheran Church Strawberry Festival

Where: 701 Green Valley Road, New Windsor

When: June 3 from 2 to 7 p.m.

For information: Call 410-635-6177 or email stlukes5@verizon.net



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