Long Grove celebrates strawberries
Long Grove Strawberry Festival is June 22-24. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Long Grove Strawberry
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 22-24
Downtown Long Grove between Old McHenry and Robert Parker Coffin roads
Free parking in the Archer lot, between Robert Parker Coffin and Old McHenry roads, and at the Stempel lot, behind Red Oaks Home Furnishings.
Adults $5, kids free
Updated: June 19, 2012 6:24PM
Everything is coming up strawberries in Long Grove as it plans for its annual Strawberry Fest this weekend.
Nestled in the historic downtown packed with boutique shopping, Strawberry Fest will celebrate the juicy, red, delicious fruit with chocolate-covered strawberries, refreshing strawberry drinks, strawberry short cake, donuts and ice cream plus strawberry-themed merchandise.
More than 50 Long Grove merchants, food and specialty vendors will participate in Strawberry Fest from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, June 22, Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24 between Old McHenry Road and Robert Parker Coffin Road.
“We asked local merchants, ‘How many things can you come up with that are strawberry related?’” said Rachel Perkal, president of the Long Grove Business and Community Partners who along with her husband, Tobin Fraley, own several businesses in the town. “Every single one has to offer up some special item that is strawberry related so there will be treats and goodies throughout the town.”
Retailers will proudly post a strawberry poster in their window if they’re featuring any strawberry items.
“I love all the festivals but especially Strawberry Fest because it brings new faces and because it’s the start of our busy season and everyone is happy with the music and strawberry treats,” said Marian Ward, owner of Long Grove’s Within Reach. She’s celebrating 30 years next month with her home accessories and gift store.
“In Long Grove, you feel like you’re on vacation without being on vacation. We have such great restaurants and boutiques plus we have a new bakery and other new stores. You can feel the change in the air this year. It’s a much more lively and vibrant feeling,” said Ward.
One of this year’s highlights will be the new M. Belle’s Pie and Bake Shop, located in the former Apple Haus at 230 Robert Parker Coffin Road.
“The new bakery is coming up with all sorts of strawberry pies — M. Belle’s alone will have a cornucopia of strawberry yum,” Perkal said. “The Long Grove Confectionary will have chocolate-covered strawberries and the owners of the new Wine Splash, a specialty boutique of wines and beers, have some strawberry libations up their sleeves for Strawberry Fest.”
Perkal is currently buttoning down the details for a good ‘ole fashioned pie eating contest to be held at 2 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday at the four-way stop sign in downtown Long Grove. M. Belle’s and Sunset Foods will be supplying the pies and any guest has the opportunity to register by noon to participate in gorging “all that yummy, messy strawberry pie” although space is limited. A series of trophies and gift certificates will be awarded to winners.
Strawberry Fest will also provide plenty of activities throughout the town for children, including kiddie rides, face painting, an ice cream eating contest and tents full of family products.
Perkal said local merchants have long recognized that hosting festivals “was a critical factor of the charm of Long Grove,” but that now, an admission charge was needed. “We decided to start to actually charge an admission fee for the festival ($5) but because we are a kid-friendly town, kids 12 and under will always be free.”
Perkal said the village has “upped the quality and extended the hours for entertainment,” which ranges from folk music to rock and roll, all organized in collaboration with the Old Town School of Folk Music.
The family focus of the festival remains preemient, Perkal said. “It’s a chance to get out of the everyday and step into small town USA and it’s right in our back yard.”