The versatile strawberry -- red, sweet, juicy, aromatic -- is good for eating plain, over (or in) ice cream and shortcake, in a pie, in a drink, as jam, as candy, in a cake mix, dipped in chocolate -- or however you wish.
Strawberries are here, and with them, old and new festivals celebrate their arrival in Carroll County.
These popular festivals offer more than just berries. Crafts, yard sales, flea markets, children's activities, music, socializing with friends, the crowning of a Strawberry Princess are among the attractions.
"Strawberries are popular because they're easy to pick, they're not up a ladder or in a tree, they're not thorny, you wash them off a little and just pop them in your mouth," said Kay Ripley of Baugher's Orchards in Westminster.
The wet weather this month has made strawberries ready a week early, Ripley said, adding that they should be in their prime next week.
The strawberry festival season in Carroll began Saturday, when the Pleasant Valley Community Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary held its annual strawberry social.
The biggest strawberry festival, in its eighth year, is sponsored by Messiah Lutheran Church of Berrett at the Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Company carnival grounds on Route 32.
Scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 6, the festival offers a large yard and craft sale, food, continuous entertainment and 1,700 pounds of berries.
"We try to make it inexpensive for families, especially those with young children," said Diane Fischer, publicity chairwoman. "It's a day of fun, the kids can get a pony ride and everybody can eat and not break their pocketbook."
Also on June 6, Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church at 1372 Bachman Valley Road has a strawberry festival starting at 2 p.m. Visitors can also get chicken corn soup and baked goods and enjoy the Alesia Band.
The oldest strawberry festival in Carroll is at St. Luke's (Winter's) Lutheran Church outside New Windsor. The 213-year-old church has had strawberry festivals for more than 130 years. It runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow.
Also tomorrow, St. Mary's Lutheran Church in Silver Run has its ** strawberry festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Route 97 and Mayberry Road. This event features Sewell's berries, food, music by the Littlestown Band, a Civil War living history camp, small flea market and hourly meditations when the church bell is rung.
Four festivals are scheduled June 13, including Baugher's, whose event is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the orchard and bakery on Route 140 west of Westminster.
Real strawberry lovers can register by June 6 for the strawberry pie-eating contest at 1 p.m. June 13. Information: 410-848-5541.
The Sykesville Historic District Commission's strawberry festival will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. the same date at the Gate House Museum, 7283 Cooper Drive, a change in location. The museum is across from Millard Cooper Park.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church at 827 Leister's Church Road starts serving berries at 4 p.m. June 13. This festival's favorite item is the homemade turkey corn soup or turkey salad.
In downtown Taneytown, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church begins its festival at 5 p.m. June 13. The favorite here, according to Louise Miller, church secretary, is the Strawberry Boat.
At Linwood Brethren Church's festival, strawberry milkshakes are the specialty.
Shortcake and ice cream with berries are served from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 20 at at the church, 575 McKinstry's Mill Road.
The last strawberry celebration of the season is one of the smallest and the second-oldest. The 108-year-old festival at Bethel United Methodist Church is a "social thing," said Myra Ensor, a member of the 50-person congregation.
"We have the Gospel Travelers from Frederick from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and that draws a lot of people," Ensor said. "They have their own followers, and they're very good."
Sandwiches, a cakewalk, bake table, white elephant table and music will be featured from noon to 6 p.m. June 27 at the church, 3001 Hooper Road near Marston.
Pub Date: 5/29/98