Ely Park in Hartford was packed this weekend with people partaking in the many events of the annual Strawberry Festival. Friday evening’s humidity did not deter even the youngest members of the community of Hartford from enjoying the kiddies parade, the crowning of the Strawberry Festival Royalty, and magician John Dudley.
Isabelle Runge was crowned Sweetest Baby. Other contestants were Landon O’Neill and Melissa Diaz-Rosales.
Nicholas Crawford Jr. was crowned Strawberry Shortcake. Other contestants were Brooke Bailey, Roman Wells-Cannon, Barbara Ann Howley, (In Memory of) Matthew Brown Jr., Braxton Simmons, Kaylynn Hess, and Ulises Ortega.
Bryce Crain was crowned Strawberry Prince, with Mateo Ortega taking home first runner-up honors. Charlotte Manning was crowned Strawberry Princess, with first runner-up going to Kamilia Ferrell and second runner-up going to Ariah Warner. Other contestants were Ava Simmons, Leilah May, Savannah Vela, and Liley Birkhead.
Friday for the youth
Locals who showed up to the parade and crowning on Friday evening might have even had the opportunity to meet the new superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, Mrs. Kelly Millin, as she enjoyed the festivities. Fidel Mireles, treasurer for Hartford’s School Board, and his daughters, Ava and Mila, kept the crowd cooled off by handing out popsicles.
Assisting with Friday evening’s youth festivities were royalty from Hartford’s Blossomtime Pageant Organization: Miss Junior Teen Hartford, Brianna Friedrich; Miss Teen 1st Runner-up, Harmony Perez; Miss Hartford 2nd Runner-up, Megan Nelson; Miss Hartford, Destiny Chacon; Miss Teen Hartford, Chloe Weston; Miss Teen Congeniality, Isela Mireles; Little Mr. Hartford, Jacob Antes.
Saturday not lacking activity
Not everything was back to pre-pandemic normal, though. Noticeably absent this year was the Strawberry Run and Pancake Breakfast, the Bed Races, as well as the pie eating contest, but folks were still able to enjoy beautiful weather for the Saturday’s events. An alternative activity for the fitness minded was provided as Lawrence Cardio Drumming had people moving Saturday morning.
The parade made its way through town at 1:00 in the afternoon. Hartford Indian Emerald Vanguard won Best Marching Unit. Best Float winner was the Strawberry Kiddie Float. Best Auto/Tractor Entry went to the United States Marine Corp. The Best Youth Entry winner was Full Gospel Assembly’s kids.
Big Ben and the Burly Boys played to a delighted crowd in Chappell Pavilion, with cane-raising covers of old favorites and at least one original tune. Groupo Bengala, or Bengala Ben, a Latino Mexican band, offered up Spanish dance music to close out the stage on Saturday.
Family Fun Tyme had rides available all weekend long, and food vendors kept the crowd supplied with treats such as elephant ears, cotton candy, pretzels, and ice cold lemonade. Joe MacMillan kept the crowd informed with announcements throughout the weekend.
Community members wishing to get involved with the planning of next year’s Strawberry Festival should visit email firstname.lastname@example.org, or reach out to Patty Schroeder or Krystal Cronk.