Strawberry Festival organizers say strong attendance at this year’s event helped mark a return toward pre-pandemic life.
Though attendance numbers are not tracked, more people turned out for the three-day event to usher in the summer season, even on Sunday afternoon when the crowd typically dwindles.
“This year, the crowd stayed,” said S. David Long, festival chairman. “As a matter of fact, we still had a good crowd when we closed at four o’clock.”
The event, which was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, was one of the first major local traditions to return to the schedule. Vendors reported good sales, and music headliners Steve Trent and Small Town and Elvis tribute artist Shawn Klush performed for rows of fans on the Lane Place grounds.
Two changes to the festival brought on by the pandemic — eliminating food ticket sales and switching out picnic tables for tabletops — may permanently become part of the tradition, Long said.
The 35-member committee kicked off preparations in December, before it was even known whether large crowds would be able to gather.
“We started planning and we had no idea what we were planning,” said Long, who finished his fourth year overseeing the event. The committee worked with the Montgomery County Health Department to ensure COVID-19 precautions were followed.
The planning went on without longtime committee member Mike Barton, who died on June 14, 2020 from cancer at 72.
Barton was remembered during a ceremony at the event, and Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton, who is not related to the former festival chair, declared June 13 as J. Michael Barton Day.
“No matter how much you write down, you can’t replace history,” Long said. “We miss him and these people are harder and harder to find.”
The committee is searching for additional volunteers. For more information, contact Long at firstname.lastname@example.org or executive secretary Paul Pfledderer.