Summer is here and with it the first fruits – sweet, juicy and delicious strawberries.

The strawberry season in Maine is a short one, usually lasting only about two to three weeks, and the Cape Farm Alliance is ready to take advantage, holding its annual Strawberry Festival on Friday and Saturday, June 24 and 25.

The fun gets going with a pig roast and lobster bake on Friday, which will also feature live music, a silent auction and a not-to-be-missed strawberry dessert.

The Strawberry Festival features berries from Maxwells Farm on Two Lights Road, where the festivities move on Saturday. This year’s event also features the first-ever farm parade at 11 a.m. Participants are encouraged to dress up as their favorite farm animal, fruit, vegetable, flower or tool.

The parade will be judged and prizes awarded for the best costume in each category. On Saturday, the festival will also feature new vendors, local artists, local craftsmen and local foods, along with an “enticing array of family-friendly activities,” live music and tractor rides.

Attendees can also pick their own strawberries in Maxwell’s fields. Signs will be posted that day to direct berry lovers to the best picking spots and while this event is family-friendly, absolutely no dogs will be allowed on the fair grounds or in the picking fields.

Bill and Lois Bamford, the owners of Maxwell’s, said that while Maine experienced a dry spring, it had no effect on the plants, “it just meant we needed to irrigate more,” the couple said in an email.

They said, “so far, we are seeing a really good crop” and that the berries are ripening about as usual. Although the couple did go on to say that there is no such thing as a “typical season.”

When asked why people love strawberries so much the Bamfords said, “What’s not to love? (Strawberries are) juicy, sweet and fun to pick. (And), these berries will be the freshest you’ll ever eat.”

The couple also said that picking your own strawberries can be a great time spent “outdoors spent with the family.” There are also many uses for strawberries from eating them fresh from the field, to making strawberry vinegar to adding them to any salad or using in smoothies or pies and muffins.

This year’s recipe of the year from Maxwell’s is for a strawberry salsa. The recipe for that and other dishes are available on the farm’s website, at www.maxwellsfarm.com.

Gary Fish, the state horticulturist, said that, “Local strawberries are popular because the varieties that can be grown closer to the market are much better tasting and sweeter.”

He said the “key to picking strawberries is a light hand, making sure to leave the stem attached and to only pick fully ripened berries.” Those looking for a place to pick their own strawberries around Maine should go online to www.getrealmaine.com/index.cfm to find their local strawberry farm.

Imogene Altznauer, the event organizer, said the Cape Farm Alliance first started the Strawberry Festival as a way to celebrate one of the community’s

most beloved crops, the Strawberry.

In addition, she said, the event has also evolved into an awareness “of the rich (history of) agriculture on both land and sea that’s (such an integral part of the) fabric of Cape Elizabeth’s farming heritage.”

Friday’s dinner includes appetizers, roast pork, lobster, steamed clams, corn, salad, bread, strawberry lemonade, mini strawberry milkshakes and dessert, “beautifully prepared and donated by The Good Table,” Altznauer said.

Throughout the entire weekend the strawberry will be highlighted. From food, to kids activities, to agricultural education, the strawberry is the weekend’s royalty,” she added.

What organizers hope, Altznauer said, is that participants in the festival, “walk away with a skip in (their) step, a smile on (their) face and hopefully, some greater knowledge of the strawberry, (along with) how important agriculture is within (the community.)”

She said, “Truly (it should provide) some home-spun fun and a great day out” for local families.

Overall, Altznauer said, the Strawberry Festival is designed to “celebrate (Cape’s) agricultural heritage and kick off the growing season and summer. It’s great fun for the whole family.”

A closer look:

The Cape Farm Alliance will hold its 8th annual Strawberry Festival on Friday and Saturday, June 24 and 25. The festivities kick off with a pig roast and lobster bake 6-10 p.m. on Friday. Tickets are $35 and they’re going fast. Then on Saturday enjoy live music, strawberry picking and more, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Maxwells Farm on Two Lights Road. See www.capefarmalliance.org for more information.

A box of fresh-picked strawberries in the field at Maxwell Farm in Cape Elizabeth. The farm has started picking for wholesale and will open for u-pick sometime this week. It’s strawberries will also be featured in this weekend’s Strawberry Festival.

Strawberries ripening on the vine at Maxwells Farm in Cape Elizabeth.

The Maxwells Farm strawberry fields on Two Lights Road in Cape Elizabeth.

Blink and the strawberry season in Maine is over, so plan to get your hands on this juicy, sweet fruit within the next few weeks.


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