Bedford strawberry festival supports cemeteries maintenance

Smudges of whipped cream reseembling milk mustaches adorned the upper lips of children whose strawberry shortcakes were dispatched in record time at the Friends of Bedford Cemeteries annual Bedford Strawberry Festival, held on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 15.

The event, which goes to the stewardship of four Bedford’s cemeteries, was held in a field alongside Bedford Memorial Town Pool, 20 County Road. The festival coincided with the first day of the swimming season. The move enabled those in the crowd who were swimmers to double their fun by alternating visits to the pool with visits to the booths of 21 vendors.

Civic groups, craftspeople and local businesses were represented. Folks walked around the field, stopping to talk, browse or buy at their favorite booths. Representatives from Bedford Women’s Club, the Bedford Garden Club, the Bedford Historical Society and many other groups were well visited. Jams, jellies, fudge and handmade soaps were sold. Handcrafted, wooden birdhouses by Bill and Kay St. Onge went home with attendees.

The festival featured grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and salads donated by T-Bones.

The strawberry shortcake, free that day to all who were fathers, was contributed by Hannafords Supermarket. Plenty of enthusiastic volunteers from The New Hope Christian Fellowship Church were present to supervise the colorful bounce house and obstacle course that was a hit provided by Pastor Bob Kruger and Alan Goedecke.

Pastor Kruger proclaimed this year’s Bedford Strawberry Festival one of the best ever.

“It seemed to me that with the Bedford swimming pool open and offering free swimming for the day, the event was really the best,” Kruger said. “It seemed that the swimming and the free strawberry shortcake for all the fathers who were there on Father’s Day, made for a really great festival.”

Ham radio operators exhibited their equipment and explained the importance of amateur radio.

The mode of communication can be a lifeline in an emergency that curtails electrical power or cell phone reception.

Amateur radio enthusiasts, “hams,” often can talk to fellow hobbyists within hundreds of miles.

Bedford’s Dave Danielson, co-chair of the Friends’ group, was the emcee for the strawberry shortcake eating contest.

This year’s winners were Jacob Richard, 8, Zack Love, 10 and Zoie Love, 10. The winners received gift certificates for ice cream at The Inside Scoop.

Kids and adults alike had fun visiting with some of the dogs that were a part of the festival’s Bow Wow Bedford segment, one that enabled spectators to consider a pet for adoption, or to register their dog with Lori Radke, a town employee and Friends’ group trustee.

Some deemed Radke, due to her culinary prowess at the charcoal grill, the hardest-working person at the festival. Photos by David Mackay and Ralph Dieter chronicled the goings-on.

Melinde Lutz Byrne, secretary of the Friends’ group and author of a new book, “Bedford Men of the Civil War,” was on hand to autograph the book, available for sale in the Town Office.

Proceeds of the book sales will go to the Friends of Bedford Cemeteries and the Civil War Preservation Trust.

Elsewhere, Jim Barnes, franchise owner of Primrose School at Bedford Hills, was busy greeting families and welcoming them to visit the day care, preschool and private school when it opens this fall at 3 Cooper Lane.

Swimmers exploring the pool, a facility backed by the Bedford Recreation department, found diversions ranging from sliding boards to spray machines that sent a mist shimmering with rainbows into the air.

Next door, the aquatic aficionados found strawberries, a treat light enough that few refrained from waiting for at least an hour before reentering the water.

Julia Schappals, co-chair of the Friends, said the event raised hundreds of dollars for the maintenance and repair of Bedford’s historic and artistic gravestones.

The work is ongoing through the Friends of Bedford Cemeteries, a non-profit group that provides stewardship for four cemeteries including Old Bedford Cemetery, located on Back River Road. Soldiers of the Revolution are interred there and the oldest grave dates to 1745.

For more information on the Friends of Bedford Cemeteries, visit online: