By Sam Wildow
TROY —After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Troy Strawberry Festival returned in its regular capacity over the weekend, welcoming an estimated 200,000 people to downtown Troy.
The weekend boasted three stages of entertainment, over 150 vendors, and the Public Square closed to traffic for thousands of visitors to take in the festivities and walk around the fountain, which was dyed pink in celebration of the festival. Visitors could also walk along the Great Miami River levee to find more arts, crafts, and food vendors.
“I’m really, really happy to say that, ‘We are back in business for the Troy Strawberry Festival.’ We’ve missed you,” Linda Roth, the 2022 chairperson of the Strawberry Festival, said during the opening ceremony on Saturday on Prouty Plaza. The chairperson of each year of the Strawberry Festival is someone invited to the role by the board and past chairs of previous years, and the chairperson has typically volunteered for a number of years on the board prior to being named a chairperson. Roth followed in the footsteps of her family, as her daughter was the chairperson in 2014 and her son-in-law was the chairperson in 2018.
On Saturday, Roth said the festival had approximately 50 food vendors partnered with local non-profit organizations to help raise funds for those organizations and their missions. The festival has been supporting local non-profits for 46 years now following the weekend’s festival.
The theme of this year’s festival was also “Peace, Love, & Berries,” about which, Roth said, “Let’s have a lot of love and peace, and eat the berries.”
“Welcome to downtown Troy. We’re so excited to have the Strawberry Festival back in full force,” Troy Mayor Robin Oda said during the opening ceremony. The weather cooperated over the weekend with sunny skies, which Oda said, “We just couldn’t ask for a better weekend.”
The 2022 Troy Strawberry Festival Queen and her court also introduced themselves during the festival, as well as took opportunities to meet with visitors and take pictures with festival-goers and strawberry mascots over the weekend.
Madison Dixon, a recent Troy High School graduate, was the Strawberry Queen. She said she will be attending the University of Cincinnati in the fall to study athletic training.
“It’s an honor to be here,” Dixon said.
The Queen’s Court included Hannah Brooks, the first attendant and an incoming senior at Troy High School. She said she hopes to attend the Ohio State University when she graduates next year.
Jackie Harris, an incoming junior at Bethel High School, was the second attendant and the Miss Congeniality.
“This is actually my first time coming to the festival, so I’m really excited,” Harris said.
Many vendors were also excited to be in downtown Troy over the weekend. Both new and seasoned vendors took part in selling a variety of arts and crafts over Saturday and Sunday, which included prints, paintings, pet accessories, garden art, wood and metal signs, clothing, and more.
“It’s great to be back,” said Mike Flavin, who ran the Dig It Designs booth with his wife, Jan. “We really missed it, and (we) look forward to seeing everyone.” Mike and Jan Flavin were selling a variety of pet accessories over the weekend, traveling to Troy for the festival from Montgomery, Ohio. Their business has been open for 11 years, with 10 of those years spent with booths at the Troy Strawberry Festival.
Sandy Tobin, of Bellevue, Ohio, was another vendor in the downtown, selling hand-stamped, stainless steel jewelry. Tobin also said it was great to be back.
This weekend was also a first time visit for vendors Lauren Stegeman and John Simpson of Green Blanky Studio, who were selling watercolor illustrations and other products themed after specific cities and places, as well as inspired by different foods, beverages, and other items.
“We sell products inspired by place,” Simpson said. Simpson is from North Carolina, and Stegeman, his wife, is from the Cincinnati area. They heard that the Troy Strawberry Festival was a great festival to attend, which inspired them to check it out.
“We’re excited to be here,” Simpson said.
The 2022 Troy Strawberry Festival exceeded many people’s expectations — including a number of vendors, some of whom sold out of products.
“They had record days,” Roth said on Monday. Roth said some of their food vendors also used up all of their products on Saturday, leaving them working to get in extra supplies and ingredients for Sunday.
“Some of the downtown businesses also had record days,” Roth said.
Roth commended those who helped put on the festival, saying, “We had outstanding volunteers … It takes a village.”