The Strawberry Festival to return March 5 for its 18th year

February 5, 2016
By Marcy Shortuse

Judy Sandbo dishes up strawberriesLuscious ripe strawberries on top of crispy biscuits. Hundreds of bargains and boutique items. Live and Silent Auctions filled with fishing excursions, paintings and crafts by some of the island’s best, delicious dinners at popular local restaurants and much more.
On Saturday, March 5, the United Methodist Women’s annual Strawberry Festival will return for its 18th year of fun and festivities – all for a good cause.
The festival opens at 9 a.m. and continues until 2 p.m., at which time the Live Auction will begin.
In 2015, the Methodist women raised more than $70,000 for distribution to 23 local and international charities that benefit women and children in need. Their efforts reflect the generosity of the Boca Grande and neighboring communities and the congregation of Lighthouse Methodist Church, which provides the leadership and many of the volunteers needed for the event.
This year, festival planners are looking forward to another successful year.
“The support received from the community and its many small businesses says much about this island’s bigheartedness,” says Lynn Kieffer, co-facilitator of this year’s event. “The needs are many. It is heartwarming to see people reaching out to lend a helping hand.”
Donations for the Strawberry Festival’s Bargain and Boutique shops are being accepted Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the office of the Methodist Church, 325 West Third St. Contributions also can be dropped off at the Crowninshield House after 9 a.m. on the Thursday and Friday before the event. Pick-up of furniture items can be arranged by calling Richard Klepser at 941-697-7687
The doors of the Crowninshield House will open at 9 a.m., allowing visitors into the Bargains and the Boutique rooms. Other activities on the nearby Community Center grounds also will open at 9 a.m., including the popular Book Nook, Dazzling Digs for adults and children, and the furniture for sale in the parking lot.
Face painting for children will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In addition, starting at 9 a.m. visitors will be able to view and bid on the many Silent Auction items housed in a separate tent on the grounds.
At 2 p.m. all other festival activities will close and the Live Auction will begin. Auctioneer Ron Thompson will call for bids on some amazing items, including trips to major sporting events like the Kentucky Derby and the U. S. Tennis Open in New York City. Diamond jewelry, gold coins and a painting by noted artist Jane Carlson will be among the articles for auction.
No one attending the festival will go hungry. The “Grilling for God” volunteers, headed by Dave Senior and Ed Paxton, will be cooking up brats and hot dogs for sale, along with chips and a soft drink. Vats of fresh-cut strawberries, ladled over biscuits, and topped with whipped cream by Judy Sandbo, Pam Hannah and the strawberry ladies are always in high demand. Marsy Doan and Ann Treat will coordinate the efforts of scores of wonderful bakers, whose tasty treats will be on sale at the entrance to the Crowninshield House.