It was “everything strawberry” last weekend at the annual Community School Strawberry Festival held at Roanoke’s Elmwood Park. Construction for the new amphitheater didn’t seem to deter the crowds from taking part in the food, arts and crafts booths, entertainment, and kids’ activities.
Festival spokeswoman Patti Stratton says they had strawberry shortcake, strawberry sundaes, berries and cream, chocolate-dipped strawberries, strawberry slushies, homemade jam, strawberry-oriented crafts and more for sale.
The money raised during the two day festival “goes to the General Operating Fund at Community School and helps to keep our tuition low. We are one of the least expensive private schools in the Valley.”
Last year they realized $59,000 in spite of the fact Saturday sales were down because of the cool and rainy weather. Statton says with this year’s sunshine, they hoped to have raised even more money.
The festival has had a substation at Hollins University for more than a decade and this year organizers decided to put one at the Market Building downtown as well. “That was a big success,” said Stratton. “It was good for us. The vendors were happy; they got a little bit of extra business. It seemed to be a good thing for everyone involved.” Stratton says they’ll likely have a substation there again next year and would eventually like to have more substations at the Salem and Vinton Farmers Markets.
They also started a website and for the first time took debit and credit cards.
Amanda Boone from Roanoke attends the festival every year but this was the first year she brought her husband and son. She said it was fun spending time together and showing him (her son) different things around Roanoke. “It’s something to do with the family. It’s fun, it’s safe, it’s easy to get to. It’s not expensive or anything like that.”
She always gets strawberry shortcake “because it’s always good . . . It is tradition. Excellent as always!”
Between mouthfuls, her son, Riley Boone, said his strawberry shortcake was “good.” His mom decided this was one time he could eat dessert before lunch.
Tammy Carr from Roanoke saved the strawberries for last but Parker Sutherland said he likes to eat all the ingredients in his strawberry shortcake together.
Parker, his mother, and his grandparents came to the festival for the first time. Parker and his mother live in Harrisonburg and his grandparents, Jan and Dean Sutherland, just moved to Fincastle.
Jan Sutherland said it was “something fun to do on a lovely day” and that she also liked the fact that all proceeds contribute to the school fund. “It’s wonderful; it’s really nice; a lot of activities.”
Organizer Patti Stratton thanked everyone for coming out. “This is a time-honored family event and we fully expect another successful year . . . Thanks to the people of Roanoke!”
– Beverley Amsler