Season’s ripe for strawberries

Strawberry and music lovers ignored the threat of stormy weather in order to get their fill at the 61st Hollis Strawberry Festival and Band Concert cosponsored by The Hollis Town Band and the Hollis Women’s Club.

The Hollis Town Band and visiting Nashua musicians performed musical classics including “Over the Rainbow” and “Stars and Stripes Forever,” while participants at the free event enjoyed the festival’s many offerings

The festival included a play area for kids, face-painting, paintings from local artists and other various vendors. The event lasted from 2-4 p.m., where most hurried to line up and grab homemade desserts created with fresh local strawberries.

The desserts sold were strawberry shortcake and strawberry sundaes with ice cream from Doc Davis.

According to Jane Taylor, HWC president and co- chairwoman of the festival, the berries were smaller this year due to an early strawberry season. She said this was not a problem, since they actually turned out juicer and more flavorful because of it.

Taylor said that the turnout this year was “on-par” with previous years, which is usually 1,200-1,500 people. This year, they brought more than 368 quarts of strawberries from Lull and Brookdale Fruit farms.

Volunteers hurried to fill the orders of the area’s sweet-tooth citizens.

“We’re hopping, straight out, nonstop,” volunteer Clarice Boyd said as she hurried to do her part in the assembly line of fellow volunteers.

Taylor said that volunteers are a major factor to the success of the event. More than 100 volunteers dedicate their time to hull the berries and work the festival.

Krissy Wuerdeman, a new member to HWC and co-chairwoman of the festival, said the volunteers work like a “well-oiled machine.” She recently moved from Southern California and is glad to be able to be a part of this community event.

“It’s a wonderful event to get to know the community and people are very nice just walking up and saying hello,” Wuerdeman said. “It is exciting.”

She was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of teen volunteers helping to make the event a success.

Hollis/Brookline High School juniors Meg Grabs and Brian McAndrews helped to transport strawberries and supplies throughout the event. They are both members of the Robotics Team and were happy to help with the festival.

“We have been doing it to help out The Hollis Women’s Club because they helped out the robotics team,” Grabs said.

The money raised from the festival will be used by HWC to fund community activities and provide scholarships and support for local schools.

David Bailey, conductor of the The Hollis Town Band for 25 years, said that Hollis is a “special kind of town” that offers a special band. The Hollis Town Band is comprised of adults, but also has youngsters from around the area.

The band was joined by 10 members of the Nashua area’s Teen Actorsingers, who gave a preview of their upcoming summer show “Barry Manilow’s Copacabana” during the band’s intermission.

According to Bailey, the festival has grown in the past 61 years and is an important tradition for the town. “It is a special New England tradition here where everybody gets together,” he said. “A lot of these people are not from Hollis.”

Bob and Ellen McDonnell have traveled from Merrimack for three years to take part in this delicious community event.

“We get the same thing every time, you can’t beat it,” Ellen McDonnell said. “(This year) the strawberries themselves are smaller, but are just as sweet.”

Taylor said that she has only heard one complaint about the festival, joking that some say “the desserts are too big.”