CAPE ELIZABETH — Sprawled across several acres in town, thousands of strawberries will ripen as summer unfolds.

The problem is the unfolding may not happen in time for the 11th Cape Farm Alliance Strawberry Festival at Maxwell’s Farm on Friday and Saturday, June 28 and 29.

The two-day celebration on Two Lights Road will begin with a sold-out, ticketed lobster bake and pig roast on Friday night. The 250-seat dinner is paired with entertainment and a silent auction to raise money for the alliance.

“It’s typically the celebration of the strawberry, the oldest agriculture here in Cape Elizabeth, and it kicks off the strawberry season. It’s all very exciting,” festival Director Imogene Altznauer said.

On Saturday, the public festival will host 40 artisans and seven food truck operators that plan to peddle their wares and strawberry-themed snacks from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. C Salt Gourmet Market plans to sell strawberry shortcake, while Crepe Elizabeth will make strawberry crepes.

The celebration will also feature tractor rides, kids’ activities, agricultural demonstrations, nonprofit educational tables, and live music by Earth Jams/Matt Loosigian, Earthtone String Band, and the Front Porch Band.

The funds generated by the festival benefit initiatives put on by the Cape Farm Alliance, according to Altznauer. The projects include funding Judy’s Pantry, the local produce pantry program in Cape, 4-H programs that tackle educational programs, and other in-school programming.

The festival will take place at Maxwell’s strawberry field on Two Lights Road, while the weekend berry picking is scheduled to be open at the farm’s other field on Bowery Beach Road (Route 77).

“We get over 3,000 people that land on the footprint over the course (of the day),” Altznauer said.

Whether there will be enough – or any – strawberries to satisfy them remains to be seen.

The cool, damp spring has delayed the earliest berries this year, and Maxwell’s fields are not yet open for anxious u-pick customers. Farmers in town are not overly optimistic.

“If the weather pattern continues the way it has been, (we) will be not be open for picking until July,” said Caitlin Jordan of Alewive’s Brook Farm, who is also a member on the Strawberry Festival executive committee. “However, if the weather permits, we will be open sooner.”

Penny Jordan of Jordan’s Farm said the key question is whether the berries have they lived through this spring.

“They haven’t had enough heat and the weather hasn’t been conducive to ripening,” Jordan said. “Usually we get them around the 27th, right around that range, and I don’t think that’s going to happen this year.”

But she noted “things can change fairly quickly. You’re not really going to know until next Wednesday or Thursday what the status is on strawberries.”

With warmer, drier, summer weather in the forecast for early next week, the hope is that berries will be ready to pick just in time for the festival.

“We have a wonderful crop of berries again this year,” said Bill Bamford of Maxwell’s Farm. “It’s just been a cold spring – we all like warm sunny days and so do the strawberries. We will have plenty of berries for our vendors at the festival, but it’s still up in the air about whether or not there will be public picking (on June 29).”

Altzauer said festival organizers are “always praying to the sun gods for good weather. We’re praying that the strawberries will be in.”

The 11th annual Cape Farm Alliance Strawberry Festival is June 28 and 29. The effect of this year’s cool, damp spring on the early harvest remains to be seen.


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