Roaming Roanoke: The Strawberry Festival

This edition of Roaming Roanoke goes to a very popular festival in the region – the Strawberry Festival!

Spring is in full swing and that means the beginning of festival season! After many festivals were canceled or postponed last year due to the Covid pandemic, we are ready for them to return! The Community School Strawberry Festival is one of the first ones to return to the region! It did not have the regular events but still had the food (I mean, the strawberries are the main reason for the festival!). This year, it was re-imagined as a drive-thru event. We went on the first day of May! 

The 2019 Strawberry Festival was our first time attending. We enjoyed it so much! Sometimes our kids still talk about the arts and crafts they made and remember waiting in all of the lines for the delicious strawberry desserts. It was certainly a different experience this year as a drive-thru, but the main thing is the festival returned and brought the famous strawberry dishes back to the Roanoke Valley! Judging by the numbers the organizers released, it appears thousands of other people felt the same way! I’ll have more on the numbers in a moment.

First, if you’re not from here like me, a little history first. The Strawberry Festival started in 1980 as a fundraiser for the Community School. Forty-one years later, it is an annual event going strong! Community School leaders say the money raised goes towards school operating costs, financial aid, and other learning opportunities. Organizers say the festival routinely draws 20,000 or more people each year! Volunteers put in more than 2,400 hours to make it happen!

This year’s festival was much different than the year’s past. Due to Covid pandemic restrictions, organizers turned it into a drive-thru food event at the Berglund Center parking lot. The Community School Strawberry Festival featured a menu full of our favorite strawberry dishes – strawberry shortcake, strawberry sundaes, and other strawberry and cream desserts. YUM! Organizers say each treat is made to order with fresh ingredients! “We are grateful that we are able to put together an event that offers Roanoke a taste of tradition without the crowds this year,” said Linda Roth, Community School Executive Director. “While we all await a complete return to normal, it’s great that our community can come together this way.”

The community certainly came together! Organizers report roughly 8,000 cars came through during the two days! They said they sold around 300-400 desserts PER HOUR on Friday and possibly 600-800 PER HOUR on Saturday! This doesn’t even include the ones sold in advance online! It’s clear people were excited for the strawberry desserts to return! 

We thoroughly enjoyed our strawberry shortcakes and strawberry sundaes! We even got more to take home and eat later! On Sunday, we wished they were still open to get more.

While most of the regular festival events were missing this year, we are so glad the main attraction, the strawberry items were served! They were delicious! Thank you to the organizers and all of the volunteers that made this event possible and smooth as possible with thousands of cars lining up to attend! We are already looking forward to them again!

If you have an event or place for Roaming Roanoke to visit, please let me know!

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Angela Evans

Angela Evans is a former tv reporter turned stay-at-home mom. She and her husband Cody have three children. They moved to Virginia in 2018. When she’s not Roaming Roanoke, she is probably drinking sweet tea, reading a book or dancing.
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