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SHORT AND SWEET

Holland Strawberry Festival a special treat for generations

Jason-Obregon-makes-strawberry-shortcake-during-t

Jason Obregon makes strawberry shortcake during the 75th annual Holland Strawberry Festival at the Community Homecoming Park. Most of the fund-raiser’s proceeds go to a children’s charity.

THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
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An old strawberry farm in Holland was alive with activity Saturday, as it neared the end of its 75th annual Strawberry Festival.

Carnival rides zoomed past toddlers holding the hands of their grandparents, 5- and 6-year-old beauty pageant queens paraded around in dresses and bows.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view.

But most people come for the goodies: lots and lots of strawberry-themed desserts.

“The kids come for the rides; I come for the [strawberry] pie,” said Dawn Davis of Toledo, who was there Saturday with her daughter, Malaikah Davis, 11, and her niece, McKenzie McCorvey, 12.

The festival at 7807 Angola Rd. began Wednesday afternoon and ends at 10 p.m. today. It is organized by the Community Homecoming Corporation, a nonprofit organization that sponsors events in Holland and Springfield Township.

The corporation bought the strawberry farm on Angola Road 40 years ago, and turned the festival — first held by local strawberry farmers in 1938 — into a fund-raising event. Most of the proceeds go to Christmas for the Needy, a charity that last year provided presents to 27 children from local, low-income families.

Gary Leasure, organization president, said that in past years, the festival has raised between $30,000 and $35,000, and he hopes to bring in the same amount this year, even though Wednesday night’s storm decreased overall attendance slightly.

Between 200 and 300 people roamed the festival grounds Saturday afternoon. In addition to the rides and strawberry fare, about 45 vendors sold light-up signs, jewelry, Tupperware, funnel cakes, and corn dogs from rows of tents.

Sheryl Gueli, 62, of Holland said she has been coming to the festival for about 30 years. She raised her children on it and now brings her grandchildren.

“It’s one of those things where you ask the grandkids, ‘Do you want to go to the festival? Then clean your room,’ ” she said, adding that it works every time.

Ms. Gueli recommends the strawberry shortcake.

Well, almost everyone recommends the strawberry shortcake.

It usually outsells the other desserts offered, which include strawberry ice cream, strawberry milkshakes, and strawberry pies.

“I think it’s the way the volunteers mash the strawberries, Mr. Leasure said. Strawberry cheesecake was added to the menu this year to celebrate the 75th anniversary.

The festival always ends on a high note — a parade in honor of Father’s Day. At 1 p.m. today, more than 75 floats will travel from Clarion Street to Angola Road where the festival takes place.

“A lot of people bring their fathers. It makes you feel good to see everyone connecting to each other,” Mr. Leasure said.

Contact Arielle Stambler at: astambler@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.

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