Ringgold has a berry tasty tradition

June 14, 2005|by Alicia Notarianni

RINGGOLD - The Ringgold Ruritan Strawberry Festival is the place for serious strawberry fans.

While some strawberry festivals offer strawberries as a bonus following craft-browsing and game-playing, the Ringgold Ruritan makes fresh-picked berries the main event.

Nearly 400 people made their way to the annual strawberry festival inside the Ringgold Ruritan building on Saturday, June 11.

Ed McKee, for one, was not looking for beanbag tosses or vending booths.

"Really, I just want strawberries," said McKee, 87, of Hagerstown.

He was in the right place.

Ringgold Ruritan President John Lefebure, 62, of Ringgold, said the group brought in 250 quarts of strawberries for the event. In addition to basic berries, they offered strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake and strawberry ice cream.


Chrissy Dunbar, 8, of Waynesboro, Pa., smiled as she dug into her strawberry ice cream.

"It's delicious. I love it. Ice cream is even on my knuckles," she said.

Marguerite Fager, 81, of Boonsboro, said her piece of strawberry shortcake with a scoop of ice cream on top was "especially good."

Gardenhour Orchards Inc. sold the strawberries to the Ringgold Ruritan at a discounted price and J.D. Rhinehart Orchards provided laborers to pick them free of charge, Lefebure said. Ruritan members and volunteers from the community spent Friday capping and slicing strawberries and baking 72 strawberry pies.

John Herbst, 82, a charter member of the Ringgold Ruritan, and his wife Betty, also a member, said the group began the strawberry festival tradition during the late 1950s. It fell by the wayside, John Lefebure said, but the festival was brought back around 1990 and has been a popular community event since.

John and Betty Herbst's grandson, Andrew Herbst, 17, of Smithsburg, took a break from working at his family's farm to attend the festival. He said he goes every year for the strawberry pie.

Richard Alvarez, 41, of Smithsburg, walked to the festival with his four children, Zoe, 14, Brad, 12, Jill, 7, and Maggie, 5.

"We come every year and see people we know," Richard Alvarez said. "It's a neighborhood thing."

Charles Pryor, 66, of Hagerstown, went to the strawberry festival with his wife, Vickie, 58. When he'd eaten his share of berries and began heading out of the building, Charles Pryor told strawberry fans who were on their way in just what they didn't want to hear.

"We ate 'em all!" he teased.

The strawberry festival serves as a fundraiser for the Ringgold Ruritan. Lefebure said proceeds, which he expected to be in excess of $1,500, would be used to maintain the Ruritan building and playground and to fund community projects such as a Halloween hayride, a barn party and outreach for people with illnesses.

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