John Herbst remembers the early Ringgold Ruritan Strawberry Festivals more than 50 years ago.
A charter member of the club, Herbst, 89, and his wife Betty, 90, used to take their children with them to the old schoolhouse to make homemade strawberry ice cream.
Right up through last year, Herbst dipped ice cream at the fundraiser. This year, he decided to pass on the scoop.
“I finished it. My son does it now,” he said.
The elder Herbsts owned and operated Smithsburg’s Misty Meadow Farms. Now David Herbst, 58, and his wife Betsy, run Misty Meadow Farm Creamery, which provides ice cream for the festival.
At the Ringgold Ruritan Strawberry Festival Saturday on Windy Haven Road, David and Betsy dipped, while John and Betty had lunch and ice cream, then picked up a strawberry pie for the road.
Around 300 people attended. John Herbst said the festival has always drawn good crowds.
“People like ice cream and strawberries, I guess,” he said.
Jim Kittel, Ringgold Ruritan treasurer, said the club purchased 260 quarts of strawberries from Gardenhour Orchards in Smithsburg.
On Friday morning, about 25 club members and community volunteers gathered at the old schoolhouse to wash, slice, cap and sort the berries. Then they set to work rolling pie crusts. Residents of the community brought in additional crusts for about 80 in all.
By midafternoon Saturday, all the strawberries had sold and only a few pies remained.
Judy Feiser, 75, of Ringgold and her friend Margaret Byrd, 89, of Leitersburg said they are festival regulars. Feiser ate ice cream, shortcake and pie.
“I had all three,” she said. “I didn’t need any of it, but I enjoyed it immensely.”
Suzan Quinn of Smithsburg went to the event with her husband, Josh Reed, and daughter, Haydan Reed, as well her mother and grandmother. After Quinn had polished off her strawberry pie, she tasted her mother’s ice cream and decided to buy a bowl of her own.
Newlyweds Christopher and Kelly Brunner of Hagerstown said they went to a movie matinee then to the festival as a “cheap daytime date.”
Christopher ordered strawberries on a biscuit, Kelly got strawberry shortcake, and they shared. Kelly said she and Christopher are “townies.”
“We like to go to good fundraisers that support the local community and local organizations,” Christopher Brunner said.
Kittel said the strawberry festival typically raises around $1,500. Proceeds go toward maintenance of the old school building, to events like the club’s autumn barn party and toward a scholarship for a local student.
John Herbst said he is pleased to see the club and the festival still going.
“It’s done a lot of good over the years in the community,” he said. “It makes me feel good.”