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Strawberry tradition continues

CHAD PLAUCHE-ADKINS The Marietta Times Bill Stacy arranges fresh picked strawberries at Stacy Family Farm in Reno on Wednesday. He will donate 100 pounds of strawberries like these for the annual First Congregational United Church of Christ Strawberry Festival on Sunday.

The eighth annual First Congregational United Church of Christ Strawberry Festival will take place this Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at their Fellowship Hall and will offer a slice of much of what makes Marietta great.

Kay Maidens, a member of the church and organizer of the event, said she started the annual tradition at the church after moving to the area from northern Ohio more than a decade ago.

“We never got strawberries as early as they are ready here,” she said.

Maidens said she noticed a bounty of local festivals that celebrated a wide variety of themes, except the one that she loves the most.

“Why don’t you have one for strawberries?” Maidens said she asked her neighbors.

She said she coordinated the strawberry festival with First Congregational Church in order to raise funds for repairs that are constantly needed at the Marietta landmark.

“With a 100-year-old church, things always have to be done,” she said.

Maidens said the $7 price tag for adults and $5 ticket cost for children under 7 will give people their choice of a Coney dog, hot dog, chicken salad sandwich or spicy chicken salad sandwich.

“Everybody seems to love the spicy chicken salad,” she said.

Attendees will also get chips and beverages with their meals, and of course, a large helping of strawberry shortcake. She said for the unfortunate few that don’t like strawberries or may have an allergy to them, there is another option for dessert.

“We will have peach shortcake as well,” said Maidens.

Maidens said there will also be a bake sale at the event where festival goers can pick up some fresh picked strawberries and homemade strawberry jam.

Bill Stacy, co-owner of Stacy Family Farm in Reno, donates the strawberries to the church every year for a unique reason. He said his family has been in the church for generations.

“My family arrived in the area on a flat boat,” he said.

Stacy went on to say that his ancestors helped with the founding of the First Congregational Church in 1796, and he still desires to help the house of worship however he can. He said he believes his family’s strawberries are a good way to help raise funds for the church and make sure it is around for generations to come.

“It’s homegrown and it’s family,” he said. “Who couldn’t sit down to strawberry shortcake and not have a good time?”

With everything from labor, to supplies and sales based in the immediate area, Stacy said it is an easy decision to donate the 100 pounds of strawberries every year to the festival.

“This farm is 100 percent local,” he said. “That’s why we want to support the first church in Marietta.”

Maidens said the festival is an opportunity for the people of Washington County to get out and enjoy spring.

“It’s a great way to meet your neighbors and enjoy the first strawberries of the season,” she said.

If you go

¯What: Eighth annual First Congregational United Church of Christ Strawberry Festival.

¯When: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

¯Where: First Congregational’s Fellowship Hall at 318 Front St.

¯Food: Coney and hot dogs, spicy chicken salad, egg salad, chips, beverages, peach and strawberry shortcake.

¯Cost: Adult tickets cost $7, children 7 and under are $5 each. No need to pre-order, just show up the day of the festival.

Source: Kay Maidens.