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Holland event satisfies hunger for strawberries

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    Jayrod Witcher, 13, left, looks at Jajuan Brown, 13, right, in excitement as they ride the scrambler ride during the Strawberry Festival in Holland Friday.

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Jayrod Witcher, 13, left, looks at Jajuan Brown, 13, right, in excitement as they ride the scrambler ride during the Strawberry Festival in Holland Friday.

The Blade/Isaac Hale
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Somewhat unsurprisingly, for most people the 76th annual Strawberry Festival in Holland is all about the food.

The festival, at 7807 Angola Rd., is famous for its strawberry-themed desserts such as strawberry shortcake, cheesecake, and milkshakes.

Michael Carmony, 20, who sells the desserts in what employees call the Strawberry House, said food attracts many of the guests to the festival.

“A lot of people come out usually just for this,” Mr. Carmony said.

For good reason. The decadent cheesecake covered in dripping strawberry sauce is hard to resist. Even early in the evening, festival attendees crowded around picnic benches to try the desserts.

PHOTO GALLERY: 76th annual Strawberry Festival

■ What: The 76th annual strawberry festival including food, carnival rides, games, live music, and pageants.

■ Where: 7807 Angola Rd., Holland

■ When: Noon to 11 p.m. today and Sunday.

■ Admission: $3 per person at the door. Rides are extra. Kids 7 and younger get in free.

■ More information: hollandstrawberryfestival.org/

“I seriously come here just for the food,” said Eva Little, 14. Her friend disagreed and said it was all about the carnival rides.

Mr. Carmony also praised the atmosphere. “I like working out here,” he said, adding that many employees have been working at the festival for 20 or 30 years.

Added festival attendee Gale Leflet: “It takes me back to my childhood. I love it. The noise and the screaming and the music. And the food, of course.”

There was a variety of music playing Friday evening, from traditional carnival tunes, to pop songs, to strawberry-themed songs (think “Strawberry Fields Forever”), plus live music by Reese Dailey Band.

Organizer Gary Leasure said the festival was going well. “Everything’‍s looking good. Everyone’s enjoying themselves,” he said.

There are a few new security measures, following a disturbance last year that ended the event early. There are 15 sheriffs deputies on duty at the festival, up from around eight or nine in past years.

This is the first year that a fence surrounds the festival grounds, and all guests must pay $3 for entrance and wear a wristband. Children 7 and under get in for free.

Mr. Leasure said the measures are intended to keep the festival a safe and family-friendly event.

“They know we’re trying to keep things safe for them,” he said.

Contact Stephen Gruber-Miller at: smiller@theblade.com, 419-724-6050, or on Twitter @sgrubermiller.

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