Strawberry Fest returns with old favorites and lots of new

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 June 2014 at 12:00 am

File photos by Tom Rivers – Don Bishop, one of the Strawberry Festival organizers, drives a car in last year’s parade with a turtle in back. The Amazing Turtle Race will be 2 p.m. on Saturday at the canal.

ALBION – The Albion community’s signature event, the two-day Strawberry Festival, is back beginning today with an agricultural theme and many new events, as well as returning favorites.

A committee of volunteers has been working with the village for many months to plan the long list of events in the Courthouse Square, the downtown and along the canal bank.

“We’ve tried to keep it a community event where you can bring the entire family,” said Michael Bonafede, chairman of the Strawberry Festival Committee.

The festival’s theme – “Flourish! Our Farms – Our Future!” – will be celebrated with an agricultural equipment display on the north side of the canal between the two lift bridges. There will also be a farmers’ market at Waterman Park and some farm floats in Saturday’s parade at 10 a.m.

The parade is one of the highlights of the festival. There will be nine marching bands and about 50 floats in the parade.

The Alexander Firemen’s Marching Band performs in the parade last June. Nine bands will be in Saturday’s parade.

The Albion Rotary Club sponsors the festival and many of the club’s members serve on committees with other community members.

“Our members are very dedicated to it,” said Cindy Perry, Rotary Club president. “They have been on the committee for years. They don’t want to see it lose momentum. They want to keep it going and see it grow.”

Bonafede was pleased to see new partners emerge for events, including GCASA, which is running youth activities at the Albion Free Methodist Church on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

The DAR will open its historic home for tours on Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. The site at 249 North Main St. is on the National Register of Historic Places. Another National Register site, Mount Albion Cemetery, will be the focus of a tour after the parade on Saturday. County Historian Bill Lattin will lead that effort.

Merrill-Grinnell Funeral Home, which is also on the National Register, will be open for tours during its 100th anniversary. The funeral home will be hosting an exhibit on funereal history and will have a replica of Abraham Lincoln’s coffin on display.

The festival has typically been focused by the courthouse and in the downtown. The festival footprint has expanded north to include the Erie Canal. Besides the farm equipment on display, the “Amazing Turtle Race” will be in the canal at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

“We’re trying to incorporate more of the canal because it’s such a significant part of the area,” Bonafede said.

There will be a full schedule of live music and family entertainment today and Saturday. Festival-goers can hear bands and see rare animals.

Other popular mainstays include a classic car show, a 5K/8K run and walk on Saturday at 8 a.m., a craft and collectibles show and the food court.

For more on the festival, click here.

The schedule of events for today includes:

11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Food Court – East Bank Street

11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Craft Booths

12 p.m. – 6 p.m. View Abraham Lincoln’s Coffin – Merrill-Grinnell Funeral Home

1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Albion Middle School Jazz Band – Courthouse Steps

2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Ghost Riders Band (country music) – Courthouse Steps

2 p.m. – 6 p.m Lakeshore Alpacas – Courthouse Lawn

3 p.m. – 8 p.m. “I Got It,” Drum Circle, Dunk Tank & Kids Games Family Fun Center

4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Razz Jazz – Courthouse Steps

4 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Chicken BBQ at the First Presbyterian Church & Strawberry Social

4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Dave Viterna Group – Food Court

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The Triple Play Band – Food Court

7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Fauxtones (rock/pop band) – Courthouse Steps