No one knows how the “Strawberry Festival” got its name.
Sure they’ll be strawberries there, but it’ll be more about kids having fun and parents getting to know the community a little better.
On April 25, the Greater Cleveland Chamber will hold its annual Strawberry Festival. Records were not kept on the first festival, so no one really knows how many years it has been in existence.
Marlene Hill, executive director of the chamber, has been hosting it ever since she arrived nine years ago. Each year it gets bigger, she said.
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“Last year there were more than 30,000 people,” Hill said.
Most came from around the state. Some stopped by after seeing it off the highway.
This year’s festival is expected to see about the same number of visitors if not more, she said.
The festival will include large inflatables, many arts and craft vendors, family oriented activities, classic car cruise-in, music and dance entertainment, performances by local entertainers and assorted food vendors from Virginia to South Carolina.
Keith Wall, the strawberry festival chairman, said it won’t be much different than previous festivals, other than camel rides and some new mascots, including the Ice Princess, and Spider Boy.
“We have an idea if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Wall said.
Wall has been volunteering for the Strawberry Festival for the past five years. This is his first year as the chairman of the committee that organizes the event. He said the goal when organizing the festival was to make it all about the children.
“I have three kids of my own, so for me it’s all about the kids having something they enjoy, whether it’s from eating funnel cakes or going through the rides or bouncy houses. It’s to really have the kids come out and enjoy themselves. It allows the chamber to give back to the community.”
The event has been good for local businesses as well.
Scott Joseph, co-owner of the Cleveland Draft House, said each year his restaurant sets up a booth, not to serve food, but to give back to the children. They usually have games children can play and win prizes. Last year, he said, kids got the opportunity to throw darts and hit the bull’s eye. The year before they did a hoop toss.
All the money raised from the game is donated to the Chamber’s scholarship fund.
“It’s been excellent for us,” Joseph said. “We definitely get new customers coming here. In the past we’ve handed out coupons and that has brought many customers in. On that day, we have to staff up.”
The event will be behind Food Lion on Technology Drive from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.