A taste of summer

Lorna Rupert, left, and Janis Louzek, right, along with other volunteers from the Hollis Woman’s Club, man the prep table where hundreds of strawberry shortcake servings were assembled for visitors during the town’s 71st Strawberry Festival.

Nobody went home hungry from the 71st Hollis Strawberry Festival, held Sunday, June 25, at the Hollis Town Commons. Strawberries, shortcake, whipped cream and ice cream satisfied hundreds of visitors with a yen for a taste of summer.

Hollis resident and attendee Boris Bronfine described the event, hosted by the Hollis Woman’s Club and the Hollis Town Band Association, as one that is large enough to be exciting yet small enough to maintain a family atmosphere.

“I like the feeling that the people of this community can come together and organize something small that is enjoyable to other people,” Bronfine said. “I’ve come often. It’s a family event.”

The crowds that lined up to order generous portions of strawberry shortcake slathered in whipped cream, or ice cream topped with berries, or ice cream cones, were not small, but dispatched efficiently by dozens of volunteers. The outdoor workers, managed by woman’s club member Kat McGhee, kept the line moving from the cashier’s table where the treats were purchased, to another line for pickup of the sweet treats.

Servers concurred that 390 quarts of locally grown strawberries, 90 quarts of whipped cream and 20 gallons of vanilla ice cream proved sufficient to satisfy the crowd.

Visitors also settled into to chairs and tables that flanked Monument Square, where the Hollis Town Band performed under direction of band leader David Bailey. Brass and woodwinds and percussion blended to produce marches, old-timey tunes and modern pop songs. Bailey has led the band since 1985. The applause of the crowd was vigorous.

Funds raised from the event benefit both of the host groups, the band and the woman’s club, both comprised of people from several towns.

Betsy Cotton, the woman’s club president, said that additional scholarships were added this year, thanks to a bequest from the late Pat McClennan and Florine Brodin, both members. She also credited members Lori Dwyer and Cathy Gast, event co-chairs, for an outstanding effort in launching the event.

“This event represents what the town is all about – camaraderie, support for those in need and just celebrating the rural character of the town,” Cotton said. “Our charities reach the Greater Nashua area. There’s no need to be a Hollis resident to be in the Hollis Woman’s Club.”

The event is well supported by local businesses. Corporate sponsors include Lull Farms LLC, Brookdale Fruit Farm, Hollis House of Pizza and Charles Schwab. Many others contribute to the perennial success.

The spectators enjoying the music and food were from many towns. Additional enticements included vendors that offered a wide range of mostly handmade items. Hiltrud Otjengerdes Bennett displayed original watercolors and prints. Debbie Gracy exhibited landscape photography. Hsiu Norcott’s art included origami miniatures made into earrings and pins.

Face painting for kids and artsy adults, along with a big supply of lawn toys for kids in need of diversion were available. Some 30 volunteers from Hollis Brookline High School’s robotics team, the “1073 Force Team” helped with many tasks as requested.

Jeanne Cleveland, a Hollis resident for 31 years and accomplished jewelry artist, wrapped some intricately beaded bracelets for a pair of Merrimack visitors and commented on the festival.

“The spirit of everybody getting together to enjoy strawberries, crafts and music is awesome,” Cleveland said. “People meet old friends here and have a chance to catch up.”

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