There are a few things that signify the start of summer: Warm, sunny days, festivals and the sweet, sugary taste of fresh fruit. Fathers’ Day weekend’s Belleville National Strawberry Festival provided all three to local attendees.
The annual event promotes the local grower of the summery crop and boasts foods like fresh strawberries, strawberry shortcake and strawberry sundaes.
“They always have good food at these things,” first-time festival-goer Keri Lewis, 26, said. “That’s the best part.”
Other foods included festival favorites like corn dogs, funnel cake and freshly made lemonade. The food wasn’t the only thing bringing people out to the celebration; a craft show and midway kept visitors entertained as well.
“I saw all the signs and thought this would be something good to bring the baby to,” said Bernadette Parkins, 49, who came out with her granddaughter. “I like it when the streets are blocked so you don’t have to worry about the traffic. It’s much more than I was expecting.”
The festival was spread out over several spots in Belleville, including several local churches and Main Street. Local businesses set up stands and groups like the Masonic Temple used the event as a fundraiser. Even the Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile was on hand to pass out samples of their hotdogs.
Downtown Belleville also drew in more than just locals for the festival. Some people came from miles away to be a part of the fun.
“We’re with Bayou Billy, up from Florida,” Rick Mclaughlin, 41, said. “I love it. I love putting smiles on people’s faces.”
The weather also cooperated with the festival.
“The weather has been beautiful,” Mclaughlin said. “Since we’re up from Florida, it’s been really nice.”
Everything seemed to come together to make this year’s festival a great way to kick off the summer for young and old alike.
“I love watching my granddaughter smile,” Parkins said. “This sure does beat sitting at home. You’ve got to get out and live life.”