July 18, 2012 - There was excitement in the air July 10 at Rowland Hall in bustling downtown Leonard. Strawberry Festival preparations are nearing completion, and committee members were unable to contain their enthusiasm as they finalized details for the annual celebration to take place July 20-22.
Head on over to downtown Leonard Saturday to enjoy a delicious strawberry sundae served up by the Addison Twp. Firefighters Association. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
A quick glance at the list of festivities and it's easy to see the reason for their anticipation. Beginning with the kick-off event Friday, July 20, visitors to the 60th annual Strawberry Festival will have many opportunities for fun and togetherness.
Included in the activities on Friday is karaoke and sing-along from 5-8 p.m. Interested merry-makers can contact Nate Farmer at 248-318-5706, or show up at the old fire hall by 5:00 p.m.
Also slated for Friday is a community-wide potluck dinner. All paper products will be provided, but folks will need to bring their own beverages.
The contest for culinary braggin' rights continues on Saturday, July 21, the main day of the Festival. The day will open with a pancake breakfast at the Leonard United Methodist Church at 8 a.m., to be followed by a bake-off at 10 a.m. Entries must include strawberry in the recipe and all confections are to be submitted by 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
Judging will begin at 11 a.m. and winners will be announced by 2 p.m. Entries will be divided into two age categories, with ribbons and prizes awarded for the top three in each division. To enter your prize-winning cobbler or fantastic pie (or whatever else you can dream up), contact Kay Bitell at 248-931-5854.
There will be plenty to eat elsewhere at the Strawberry Festival.
As usual, the Addison Township Firefighters Association will be dishing out refreshing and delicious ice cream sundaes from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the old fire hall next to Rowland Hall. Folks can choose to top their vanilla ice cream with either strawberry or chocolate sauce.
Those with pre-sale tickets can purchase their sundaes for $3 each. Those buying the day of the festival will be charged $3.50 each.
Follow your nose to the Addison Village Market where you will find grilled hamburgers outside. Proprietor John Bahri said the Festival is a pretty "big deal" for his business--so big that he's hired an additional eight people to help him man the store over the weekend.
Food can be found at the Leonard Market as well. Store owner Sam Shamoun plans to set up a tent in front of the barber shop where he'll serve pizza by the slice, corn dogs, fries, and chicken tenders. Shamoun echoed Bahri's assessment, saying the Festival is the "biggest event in Leonard all year."
Of course, some good down-home cookin' is only one reason to attend the Strawberry Festival.
Folks will also find Arts and Craft booths, an Upland Hills Farms petting zoo, inflatable bounce houses, live music beginning at 11 a.m, and a decorated bicycle contest starting at 11:30 a.m.
As if that wasn't enough, a car show will take place in the Cooper-Standard parking lot beginning at 10:30 a.m.
Contact Roger May at 248-628-5653 if you'd like to participate; set up starts at 9 a.m.
The big parade kicks off at 12 noon and will pay special homage to the original Leonard firefighters and widows.
Rounding out the day will be a magic show by Oopsy-Daisy the clown, laser tag, pony rides, a mechanical bull, and train rides. These activities are free to the public and will commence at 1 p.m. and continue until 5 p.m.
In addition to food and games, there will be a variety of musical acts on the main stage next to the post office.
Wayne Sutherby will lead off the bill at 11 a.m., and Mitch Washer will perform at 3:30 p.m. Country duo R & R Doubletake will perform from 5-7 p.m, and a street dance will start at 7 p.m. with tunes provided by Universal Sound Productions.
The final day of the three-day festival will feature both a community-wide worship service and a gospel sing at the Leonard Community Church from 3-5 p.m on Sunday. Bring a lawn chair if you plan to attend, Committee Chair Char Sutherby encouraged.
With so much fun packed into Leonard in one small weekend, you can see why festival planners are excited.
As they say, a good time is guaranteed for all, so come on out.
For further information you can visit www.strawberryfest.net or contact the Strawberry Festival Committee Chair Char Sutherby at (248) 628-5924.