Marietta church to hold Strawberry Festival Lunch and Bake Sale

MARIETTA — There are some moments you anticipate having every spring.

For Kay Maidens, it’s biting into a ripe, red, juicy strawberry for the first time in the season.

“It’s a heck of a time to bite into a strawberry,” she said. “It’s kind of the same as with green beans. You want that first green bean out of the garden and you want that first taste of strawberry.”

Plenty of folks will have that opportunity from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, when the First Congregational Church in Marietta hosts its annual Strawberry Festival Lunch and Bake Sale, open to the entire community.

The festival, now having been held for a handful of years, was the dream of Maidens, who used to attend a similar event at a church when she lived in northern Ohio.

“It was always so delightful and I thought we should bring it here,” she said. “In northern Ohio, it’s more likely to be June before we get our first strawberries but here, we’re the first part of the state to have fresh, beautiful strawberries. We should all enjoy that.”

There will be plenty of the fruit available at the festival, including strawberry shortcake, strawberry punch, jam and picked strawberries available for purchase.

All of the berries are local, having come from Stacy Family Farm in Reno, said Maidens.

“They’re just such good people and they have excellent strawberries,” she said. “They’re huge this year.”

Todd Stacy said the family’s strawberries survived the brutally cold snaps of last winter and are looking healthy.

“We’re a little later than normal but everything’s shaping up good for the year,” he said. “We just opened for picking for the first time on Saturday and within a few hours we were picked out. But our big field is ready and we’re picking every day now.”

For those who aren’t as passionate about a sweet strawberry–or have an allergy–there will be plenty of other food options at Sunday’s event. The menu also includes grilled hot dogs, chicken salad, egg salad, chips, peach shortcake, iced tea and coffee. There will be a bake sale, with proceeds going to the church’s general fund.

In addition to pleasing the taste buds, the festival is a chance to catch up with friends and enjoy each other’s company, said Maidens, all to the tune of live piano music from the church’s music director.

“He’ll play modern music and some oldies that everyone knows,” she said. “It’s a good time to sit and talk with friends. It’s a social hour, too.”