CHASSELL - The strawberries are ripe and the Copper Country is ready to celebrate as the Chassell Lions Club prepares to host the 63rd annual Strawberry Festival this Friday and Saturday in Chassell.
"It's such a fun event; the shortcake is delicious and the crowds are great," Lois Berg, Lions Club president and "Queen Lion" said. "It's all-around good fun."
Friday will feature arts vendors, free wagon rides, a fish boil, a children's parade, a Chassell Heritage Center open house, the queen selection ceremony at 7 p.m. followed by a dance with live music.
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Chassell Lions Club president Lois Berg cleans strawberries in preparation for the 2010 Strawberry Festival. This year’s festival is Friday and Saturday in Chassell.
The parade at 11 a.m. will highlight Saturday's events, but there will also be a pancake breakfast, chicken barbeque, wagon rides, more live music, 45-minute scientific boat excursions aboard the research vessel "Agassiz," a vintage fashion show, children's games in Centennial Park and an open mic at the pavilion. There will also be a quilt show both days at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Chassell benefiting the Copper Country Humane Society.
Parade registration will be held Saturday morning prior to the parade, and floats will be judged in seven different categories as they vie for cash prizes: commercial, patriotic, humorous, strawberry-themed, antiques, equestrian and music.
The Festival has evolved over its 63 years, but it was created to celebrate the rich strawberry-growing history in and around Chassell. This year's festival is dedicated to the Chassell Historical Organization.
"It's a connection with the past," said Berg, who noted that the area once boasted more than 200 strawberry growers. While there are only eight local strawberry farms remaining, there are still plenty of strawberries to go around.
The Lions Club plans to go through 1,500 quarts of strawberries, which will all be cleaned Thursday night by the community, in preparation to make more than 3,000 strawberry shortcakes.
"It's the best darn cake ever," Berg said. "And there are very generous portions."
Berg grew up in the area and worked at a strawberry farm.
"My mom was part of the VFW and helped with the fish pond at Strawberry Festivals in the past," she said. "There's a lot of involvement from people in the community who either used to be involved or are currently involved in strawberry growing."
The festival also serves as a fundraiser for the Lions Club, which gives all the money back to the community in the form of funding for local events, community improvements and scholarships.
The queen, who will be chosen from 13 candidates, will earn a $500 scholarship to the school of her choice.
The Strawberry Festival, recognized in 2001 by the Detroit Free Press as the longest continuously running festival of its kind, will kick off Friday morning and will run through Saturday afternoon.