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Tasty plans for upcoming Strawberry Fest


On Saturday, March 2, the Strawberry Festival will return to the Community Center grounds to celebrate more than 30 years of raising money to provide help to local women and children in need.

“Despite the fatigue and many challenges left over from the hurricane, the church women are moving ahead full steam to ensure that this year’s event is as much fun as in previous years,” said Amy Mitchell, who along with fellow Boca Grande resident and Strawberry Festival Co-Chair Leslie McGeehen will be chairing the event. 

“This year’s festival will signal our efforts to return to normal and, of course, underscore the need to help others who are still suffering as a result of the storm and beyond. We have to stop and think about those in our local communities who are still displaced and struggling as a result of the storm,” said McGeehen. The need has not diminished in over a year’s time, and in fact, in many ways the needs have increased as many available resources post storm have dissolved,” remarked McGeehen.

Headlining the event will be the traditional bowls of delicious strawberry shortcake, slathered with whipped cream and keeping an eye on sustainability.  The crew led by Sara Moll and Becca deRosa has researched and identified compostable serving bowls and utensils which are 100% biodegradable. Chairs  Karen and Randy Reid are staying cool, while serving up tasty brats and hot dogs lovingly grilled by the volunteers known as the “Grilling for God” team.

The Bargain Room and Boutique will be back, under Miki and Marsy Doan’s leadership, featuring items for the home at reasonable prices. The church is currently accepting donations for these two projects. Call Jan Myers at 941-964-0562 if you have something to donate.

The Silent Auction will bring out all of the perennial favorites but will also feature a few new pieces, including a special kayak equipped with everything needed for a day’s fishing on the backwater. Also included are special events, dinners, boat adventures, novelty items and golfing packages for local private courses in the area. Under the leadership of the Benson and Cole families, the event will be offering a bicycle raffle this year, which promises to add to the fun and thrill of the festival. You’re not going to want to miss it!

The silent auction and wine pull will be featured under the big tent adjacent to the Crowninshield. The dynamic duo, Carrie and Bill York, will ring the cowbells which signal that a festival-goer pulled a bottle of wine worth more than the asking price. And with all that ringing, it won’t be hard to find Carrie and Bill. They need your cash and wine donations this year as well. If you have bottles to donate or can donate cash to purchase wine, please reach out to Carrie and Bill York at

Last year, and maybe surprising to many, the team served over 100 children who attended the Strawberry Festival.  Amy Mitchell indicated that “serving so many children during the festival gives us great joy when we think about the future of faith and the impact our outreach is generating.” With Lighthouse United Methodist Church Youth Coordinator Kathy Peter’s leadership and Young Life volunteers, the church hopes to increase its outreach in 2024 with a separate area offering face painting, age-appropriate toys and faith-based activities for children. Stephane teVelde will be close by the children’s activity tent, selling donated children’s items as well. Stephane and her team offer amazing, reasonably priced items for kiddos: puzzles, games, baby equipment, toys and items that are helpful to have on hand when kids and grandkids come to visit.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a church event without delicious baked goods that will be available, as always, at the entrance to the Bargain Room in the Crowninshield building.  If you stroll over to that area, you might also just find some treasured jewelry or a gorgeous potted plant nearby.

You’ll also find Mary Jo Wilson, Kay Rembold and Nancy Wilson attending to those areas. Looking for a few great books to read while on island?  Adjacent to the Silent Auction and wine pull, Candy Rost and Mel Wetmiller will offer hundreds of books, all sorted and available by genre.