By Nicole Formisano
Looking for some sweet summer fun? Well, you’re in luck— the Strawberry Festival is back!
This Long Island staple, sponsored by the Mattituck Lions Club, is celebrating its 66th annual festival from June 16 to 21. Last year’s cancellation of this longstanding tradition was a symbol of just how much the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted our lives; on the bright side, it makes its return that much sweeter.
However, the pandemic has still thrown some obstacles in the way of this beloved festival. Due to the late decision to have the festival, the organizers have encountered issues with transportation, supply, and timing. Because of this, the hulling night had to be canceled. This means that this year, festival-goers will have to do without that famous, oh-so-delicious strawberry shortcake. Luckily, in its place will be local farm-fresh strawberries (and chocolate-covered, if you so choose!)
Despite these barriers, the Mattituck Lions are making “every attempt to make this year’s festival the same as previous.” The Strawberry Festival’s thrilling games and rides will once again be provided by Reithoffer Shows. The much-beloved international food court, though missing the shortcake, will still feature zeppoles and alcohol-free strawberry daiquiris. The festival will also be opening on Wednesday instead of Thursday, giving the public an extra night of fun!
Not only will there be games, food, and rides, but also fireworks shows for three nights in a row: Thursday at 9:30 p.m., Friday at 10 p.m., and Saturday at 10:15 p.m.
And of course, what is the Strawberry Festival without its queen? The 65th Strawberry Queen is selected from a pool of Southold sophomores and juniors, based on her “poise, academic success, range of interests, and a commitment to community service.” She will be the recipient of not only a crown and title, but a scholarship as well. The Queen will be announced on Saturday, the 19th, at 3 p.m.
Every year, the Mattituck Lions host the event toward the end of June not only because the local strawberries are at their peak ripeness, but also because it is a Father’s Day tradition. In honor of this, the festival is offering a deal on that special day: all dads can enter free of charge with the purchase of one ticket for their child. All the proceeds go toward the Mattituck Lions’ year-round community service efforts. Those who will benefit include the Girl Scouts, DECA, Vacation Camp for the Blind, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and many more.
For those in Nassau, the Massapequa Historical Society is hosting its own Strawberry Festival on Saturday, June 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Historical Complex. The festival will feature tours, raffles, merch, a community food drive, and Long Island strawberries.
The Strawberry Festivals mark the continuation of Island tradition and the beginning of a slow return to normal. After a year of sacrifices, it’s finally time for a weekend of fun alongside friends and family. So go out and enjoy the rides, the entertainment, and of course, those sweet summer strawberries.
For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.