July 17, 2013 - Over the last 60 years, Leonard's Strawberry Festival has endured blistering heat and pouring rain.
It's a scientific fact that strawberry sundaes just taste better in Leonard. (click for larger version)
There's no way a little road construction is going to stop folks from enjoying this annual slice of small town life scheduled for Saturday, July 20.
With Rochester Rd. – one of two main roads leading in and out of Leonard – under construction, visitors to the 61st annual festival will be forced to use a detour route consisting of all gravel roads.
For those drivers who wish to remain on paved roads, the festival committee offers two alternative routes.
One involves taking M-24 north to Dryden Rd., turning right and continuing to Rochester Rd., then turning right (south) and proceeding to Leonard.
The other entails taking Van Dyke north to General Squire, turning left (west), heading to Rochester Rd., then turning right (south), which leads into the village.
As always, this year's Strawberry Festival promises to be loads of fun.
The day begins with a pancake breakfast at Leonard United Methodist Church (254 E. Elmwood St.) from 8-10:30 a.m.
From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., members of the Addison Township Firefighters Association will be dishing out vanilla ice cream sundaes, topped with strawberries and/or chocolate sauce, in the old fire hall next door to Rowland Hall.
Folks who purchase advance tickets for their sundaes will pay $3 each. On day of the festival, sundaes cost $3.50 each.
Advance sundae tickets are available at Addison Fire Station #1, located at 4026 Forest St. in Leonard.
The classic car show in the Cooper Standard Automotive parking lot will run from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Exhibitors can begin setting up and registering at 9 a.m. Awards will be given out at 3:30 p.m.
Judging for the kids' bicycle decorating contest will take place at Leonard Elementary School at 11:30 a.m.
For those who wish to test their cooking skills, the Strawberry Bake-off will return to Rowland Hall. All entries must arrive between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Dishes must contain strawberries. Alcohol, preserves and beverage recipes are prohibited. Recipes must be included with entries, which will be judged based on taste and presentation. Winners will be announced at 2 p.m.
The festival parade along E. Elmwood St. will begin at 12 noon sharp. This year's Grand Marshals are Fredric and Cindy Ashley. Special persons include Edward Porter, Eleanor Hamilton, Marge McCallum, Ann Schlusler and Mary Sue Sutherby.
Children's activities will be open from 1-5 p.m. They include free train rides and inflatables, $3 pony rides by the Polly Ann Trail and an opportunity to meet Sheepshank Sam.
Portrayed by Ben Thompson, Sheepshank Sam is an old-time shanty boy lumberjack who mixes history and tall tales to transport listeners back to a lumberjack camp in northern Michigan during the late 1800s. Audience members learn all about old lumbering practices and are given the opportunity to use authentic lumberjack tools such as saws, cant hooks and skidding tongs.
There will be entertainment galore as members of Amber's Dance Academy will take the stage at 1:30 p.m. followed by Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson impersonators at 4 p.m. A magic show will take place at the Polly Ann Trail at 2 p.m.
The annual street dance will run from 7-10 p.m. Music will be provided by the Haulin' Ellis Band.
For those folks who can't wait for festival day, there's a special Friday night kick-off in downtown Leonard from 4:30 to 8 p.m.
It will feature a potluck dinner and music by Mitch Washer.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.