Strawberry Festival becoming staple of Thorsby community

Published 2:08 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

The third annual Chilton County Strawberry Festival in Thorsby on April 27 was the biggest in the event’s history, showing how much the festival has grown into the identity of the city. The festival introduced new elements in 2024 like the Berry Blast 5K that kicked off the festival early in the morning. However, it still had some of the local favorites that keeps thousands of people flocking to Thorsby every April.

“Seeing everyone come out is almost like a family reunion,” Judy Hale of Hale Farms said. “This is wonderful for Thorsby to have all these people coming in to see what we have to offer in our wonderful, little Mayberry town.”

The festival opened at 9 a.m. inside Richard Wood Park in downtown Thorsby under a picture-perfect sunny sky, and by 10 a.m. the park was flooded with patrons and parking was at a premium already. Food trucks, inflatables and a petting zoo for the kids, over 150 vendors, live music, the Strawberry Art Contest and more were all among the attractions at this year’s festival.

The sole purpose of the festival each year is to showcase the farmers and producers of the county’s strawberries, and many of them came out with hundreds of baskets for sale. The farmers and their farms were featured in the Strawberry Auction at the festival where Slate Knight of Knight Farms was top-voted strawberry basket. Jeremiah and Jessa Jones from C & J Farms were voted second, Shawn Ballew from Ballew Farms third, Jared Burnette from Burnette Farms fourth and Wesley Hale from Hale Farms fifth. In the kid’s division of the auction, Adalyn Knight of Knight Farms won first place, followed by Emeri Burnette from Burnette Farms in second place.

Knight said that he has seen a high production this strawberry season so far at his farm, and added farms around Chilton County seem to be faring well too.

“(The festival) is great and we love it (every year),” Knight said. “We can sell our local strawberries here, and we do not have to drive to Birmingham or Montgomery to other markets. A lot of local people come out, and it is great advertisement for your farm. It helps us build business at the farm, and it is just a good thing for everyone in the community.”

The Best of Strawberry Contest was part of the festival again in 2024 that named three top strawberry sweet treats as winners. In the kids Best of Sweet category, Stella Ballew won with her strawberry sorbet. Kelley Tidwell of MKT Farms won top prize in the adult Best of Sweet category with her strawberry cake, and Wendy Morrison’s strawberry freezer jam took home the Best Jam and Jelly category top spot.

The 2024 festival was the first year of the Berry Blast 5K that started bright and early making its way through Thorsby, and 73 runners participated in the run’s first year. Andrew Givan was the male overall winner, and Mary Kate Rouse was the female overall winner. Each won a $100 cash prize and a basket of strawberries from Hale Farms.

The winners of the Strawberry Art Contest will be announced along with the winner’s photos at the awards event later in May.