It’s a fair, it’s a carnival, it’s… the 2015 Strawberry Fest!
The annual get-together in Cottage Grove is expected to attract heros and heroines of all ages. The festival’s superhero theme was happenstance, after button designer Leah Pinska crafted the winning artwork, titled “Super Berry.” Festival organizer Lori Olsen said the theme was left open, and a superhero idea had been kicked around for several years.
“I’m thinking we’ll be seeing a lot of people wearing capes,” Olsen said.
Strawberry Fest will take place Thursday to Sunday, June 18-21, at Kingston Park, Indian Boulevard and 75th Street. The festival concludes Monday with the Strawberry Fest Ambassadors coronation.
There are many returning attractions, a few new things and a couple of activities taking a year off, all of which are intended to bring more families and kids to the event, Olsen said.
Kicking off the weekend Saturday is the Grand Day Parade through town. Starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, the parade will make its way from 80th Street, between Jenner and Jamaica avenues, north along Jamaica Avenue to Indian Boulevard. It will turn east on Indian Boulevard and end at Cottage Grove Middle School. Dozens of floats from local organizations, businesses and programs join royalty from around the region and other well-known characters, including the St. Paul Winter Carnival Vulcan Krewe.
As always, the midway carnival is a highlight of Strawberry Fest weekend. Returning for another year, over a dozen rides will thrill and excite riders of all ages. The carnival opens at 4 p.m. on Thursday and is runs through the weekend.
Also making its return is the car show, held Saturday. The car show will showcase classic, new and custom-designed vehicles from different eras. Following the show, entrants will be judged and five will be awarded. The awards are: royalty choice, mayor’s choice, police chief’s choice, fire chief’s choice and people’s choice.
“We’re shooting for at least 50 cars, pretty much from across the board,” Olsen said.
Ambush Makeover is back, and two lucky ladies will get pampered, primped and permed in an all-day, expenses-paid makeover. Two women will be chosen at 1 p.m. Saturday, and the great reveal will take place at 7:30 p.m. on the main stage.
The Minnesota Sings competition is coming back but will be incorporated with the Strawberry Fest Talent Show. Olsen said participants ages 15-25 are welcome to join the singing competition, where one winner will be selected to move on to the state competition in September.
“They were originally two separate events but were happening on the same night,” Olsen said. “So we moved over the talent show along with Minnesota Sings.”
The Talent Show and Minnesota Sings competition will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, on the main stage. All ages are encouraged to participate in the talent show.
New to the annual festival is an interactive story called StoryWalk. It is sponsored by the Park Grove Library and will take Strawberry Fest-goers on a journey one page at a time.
“When they walk around people can read the story as they go,” said Lori Olsen, Strawberry Fest organizer.
The story will be posted along the walking path near the Business Expo at Kingston Park. The StoryWalk Project was created by a Vermont woman named Anne Ferguson who wanted to fuse the outdoors with reading. The idea is to inspire readers of all ages to be active and increase literacy.
“We hope we get a lot of kids out there,” Olsen said.
Looking for some high-flying action? Check out the hot air balloon rides. RE/MAX Professionals is sponsoring the attraction, and participants can hop in a tethered hot air balloon for $3. Another air adventure, the helicopter rides, is taking a year off. Olsen said last year’s low turnout prompted organizers to nix the attraction for a year.
Other events for the weekend include bean bag and softball tournaments; a kids tractor pull; the always popular Top Chef Contest and pie-eating contest; the Lions Club will host a margarita bar; and bands will play the main stage at night. Friday night, Strawberry Fest-goers can sing and dance along to country music artists Chad Pfeifer & The Sweet Corn Pickers. On Saturday, self-proclaimed supreme party band 8 Foot 4 will perform during the afternoon, and in the evening well-known performers Rock Godz will take the stage.
“It’s more of a variety of music, and for a long time we haven’t had a band on in the afternoon,” Olsen said. “We’re trying to bring more people into the festival earlier and then get them to stay for Rock Godz and the fireworks.”
Concluding Saturday’s full schedule is the Bulletin-sponsored fireworks display.
“We’re hoping for a good Friday and Saturday,” Olsen said. “Strawberry Fest really celebrates our community and it gets all the residents and everyone together to celebrate that.”
Strawberry Fest carnival tickets information
Pre-sale carnival tickets can be purchased at Cottage Grove City Hall, 12800 Ravine Pkwy, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until June 18. A book of 10 tickets is $21. If you purchase your tickets online, keep the receipt for redemption of your carnival tickets at Strawberry Fest. Tickets can be picked up at the Information Booth at Kingston Park.
Strawberry Fest button information
Strawberry Fest buttons are $3 each, and can be purchased at Cub Foods, Edina Realty, South Washington County Bulletin, City Hall or from any of the Strawberry Fest Ambassador candidates.
When you purchase a Strawberry Fest button you are entered into a drawing for a number of super prizes, including cash, gift certificates and cards, event tickets, gift baskets and a hotel stay. Prizes are valued between $80 and $750.
For the full schedule of activities, visit www.cottagegrovestrawberryfest.com