Strawberry Festival in June will celebrate Santa, make some changes due to closed bridge

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 February 2023 at 4:47 pm

Bronze statue honoring Charles Howard to be dedicated June 10

Photos by Tom Rivers: Santa and Mrs. Claus attended the June 2018 Strawberry Festival parade and greeted the crowd along Main Street.

ALBION – Organizers of the Albion Strawberry Festival announced the two-day event will be back June 9-10 with some changes due to the Main Street lift bridge being closed.

The parade route, which used to head north on Main Street over the bridge, will instead turn left on West Bank Street, said June Persia, chairwoman of the festival.

The organizers also are seeking the state Department of Transportation’s permission to close Main Street to traffic from Park Street to the bridge. A detour would be expected to send traffic down East Park Street to work their way over to the Ingersoll Street bridge for those headed north.

A statue of Santa, in clay form, was shown to the Albion Betterment Committee on April 23. The statue will be cast in bronze and is on schedule to be ready in time for the Strawberry Festival.

This year’s festival has a theme of “Here Comes Santa” to celebrate the unveiling on a new bronze statue in the likeness of Santa. It will be in Waterman Park, about a half block south of the canal.

Brian Porter, a sculptor from Pendleton, is creating the statue and it is on schedule to be ready in time for the festival. It will be dedicated on June 10 in honor of the late Charles W. Howard, who ran a world-famous Santa School in Albion from 1937 to 1966, and also operated Christmas Park.

Howard remains a revered figure among Santa impersonators. The Santa School is now in Midland, Mich. and still bears his name.

Volunteers are discussing ways to have more festival fun. Persia said a cornhole tournament on Main Street, near the closed off bridge, is one possibility. Organizers are looking for more activities that would be fun for adults, while keeping the children’s entertainment.

Persia has been helping to plan the festival for the past decade. She looks forward to the two-day event with live entertainment, a food court, arts and crafts vendors, a 5k/8k race, the parade and other activities. This will be the 35th Strawberry Festival.

“I want to see the community come together,” she said about the festival. “I like to see people come into our village. We have a beautiful village.”

A team of volunteers is needed to plan and run the event. More volunteers are welcome Persia said. The planning committee meets twice monthly, alternating every two weeks from a morning meeting to an evening meeting.

The next meeting will be 6 p.m. on Feb. 15 at the Hoag Library. For more information, reach out to Persia at (585) 704-1994.