RINGGOLD — Robert Null used to satisfy his hankering for strawberries by growing his own.
But he ran into some problems.
"I wasn't getting a good crop. The birds would eat them up," Null said. "I'd even cover them with netting, but the birds would still get 'em."
Finally, Null, 71, of Boonsboro, gave up.
"I decided to buy 'em. It's easier," he said.
Saturday, Null discovered a sort of strawberry oasis where he could indulge his appetite for the juicy, sweet-smelling fruit at the Ringgold Ruritan's Ringgold Strawberry Festival.
Seated at a picnic table outside the Ruritan building, Null savored strawberry shortcake with ice cream while his wife, Jenny, 62, ate strawberry cheesecake.
Null said the berries were "small, but tasty."
Ringgold Ruritan member Betsy Herbst, 57, of Ringgold, said the group picked 284 quarts of strawberries Friday at Gardenhour Orchards Inc., a farm and packing house just down the road from the Ruritan. Volunteers baked 80 strawberry pies. Community members baked and donated shortcake for the event.
"We kept the nicest berries to sell in pints," Herbst said. "The rest, we capped, sliced and got ready for the pies, shortcake and ice cream."
The strawberry festival is a Ringgold Ruritan tradition, she said. After operating annually for many years, the festival fell by the wayside. In 1986, it was brought back, and with the exception of a few odd years, has been up and running since.
"People just love strawberries," Herbst said.
Tony Peel, 31, of Hagerstown, was driving through Ringgold Saturday afternoon with his girlfriend, Kelsey Grimm, 23, and her cousin Claudia Galeski, 14, and niece Crystalyn Oswald, 3, when he saw a sign advertising the festival.
"(Grimm and her family) had never had strawberry pie before, so we figured we should go for it," Peel said.
The group dug into the colorful pastry beneath an outdoor pavilion.
Herbst said she thought the warm, sunny weather helped boost attendance at the event. In addition to all things strawberry, the Ruritan sold country ham sandwiches and soup for lunch, both of which sold out.
Ringgold Ruritan President John Lefevure said about 400 people attended. He estimated the event would gross around $2,000. Profits from the festival are used to provide scholarships to area students and to fund community projects.