Strawberry festivals go on, whether or not the berries are ready (May 17, 18, 24 and 25)

May 16, 2008

This rainy weather that’s driving all our kids stir-crazy is also making farmers a little antsy. Corn and soybeans can’t be planted in soggy fields; berries aren’t ripening because there’s not enough warm, sunny weather. The upside is that cool-weather peas, lettuce, spinach, asparagus and radishes are fabulous! But nobody has a spinach festival … this time of year, it should be all about strawberries. Problem is, they’re just starting to ripen. Eckert’s Belleville location is going ahead with its strawberry festival this weekend (May 17 and 18), even though the pick-your-own patch probably won’t open until next weekend at the earliest. The store will have some home-grown strawberries for sale, as well as other produce, preserves, festival foods and frozen custard.

The festival itself (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) is free, as are the music (from noon to 4 p.m.) and the wagon rides. Other activities are pay-as-you-go, so be prepared in case your kids want to do the petting zoo, pony rides, inflatable or carnival rides. These fees have caused complaints from parents in the past, and now Eckert’s is careful to publicize them in advance, but I still think they’d do themselves a PR favor to have a completely free event. The drive from downtown St. Louis to the farm on Belleville’s eastern fringe is just under half an hour. For details, call 618.233.0513.

Another Illinois-side strawberry festival takes place Memorial Day weekend (May 24 and 25) at the Macoupin County Historical Society’s grounds in Carlinville. This is an old-fashioned fair in the sense that there’s breakfast starting at 7 a.m. (biscuits and gravy, sweet rolls, applecause, rhubarb sauce, etc. — and you just know someone’s grandma is heading up the kitchen!) Other food later in the day includes homemade chicken and noodles, ham and beans, sandwiches, strawberry shortcake, rhubarb shortcake, barbecued pork chop sandwiches, porkburgers, etc.

What really reminds me of county fairs back in the day is the antique tractor show, the volunteers demonstrating artisan crafts, the blacksmith show, the bluegrass festival, a nondenominational hymn sing, a flea market, a toy show … you get the idea. The drive from our house to Carlinville is about an hour, and although I can’t promise we’ll make it to the Red Barn for breakfast by 7 a.m., I do anticipate getting an early start to the day so the boys can nap on the way home.

If you have questions, you can call the historical society at 217.854.2850.  And MANY THANKS to Misty, who sent me the link for the online info site this afternoon — turns out the event is called the Spring Festival on the homepage, but the Strawberry Festival in the Carlinville newspaper, which is where I got my info, thanks to another kind person who sent me a tearsheet!


3 Responses to “Strawberry festivals go on, whether or not the berries are ready (May 17, 18, 24 and 25)”

  1. Misty Fritz Says:

    Just thought I’d let you know that there is SOME info online about the festival in Carlinville, though they’re calling it the Spring Festival.

    (I live in a neighboring town to Carlinville, and found your entry via Google when I was looking up the festival.)

  2. Temperate Says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Temperate.

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