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June 7, 2012

Strawberry Days fest set to start

See schedules, recipes, more in special section

GROVE CITY — The purpose of Grove City Strawberry Days has always been “a family event that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg,” festival chairman Mary Kay Mattocks said.

And with forecasters promising sunny, warm weather, festival-goers should have the perfect long weekend to enjoy the fruits of organizers’ labor at Grove City Memorial Park.

Mattocks said the event will feature mainstays that have made it a popular community draw every June since 1991 – with close to 80 vendors, 20 non-profit organizations selling food and the popular Strawberry Shortcake Patch, which has free events for the kids.

A new character to the patch is Dora the Explorer, sponsored by Armstrong Cable. Kids will also be offered free dragonfly balloons, face painting, caricature drawings and more.

This is the sixth year for the patch, which has brought more families to the festival, Mattocks added.

Before that, “We didn’t really have anything for kids,” she said.

Vendors with kid-related things for parents to peruse will be near the patch, Mattocks noted.

Strawberry Days kicks off at 5 p.m. Thursday with the annual chicken barbecue, then offers a full schedule of events from Friday until Sunday, when talent show winners walk away with cash prizes.

Entertainment throughout the event will include country music on Friday and oldies music on Saturday.

Johnny Angel and the Halos, who haven’t played at Strawberry Days for many years, will return to the stage. Sunday’s entertainment is jazz oriented, and the fest will end with the popular talent show.

Although the festival offers many of its usual items, “it grows every year with more community support,” Mattocks said, with supporters giving time, resources and money.

“We’re fortunate to have supporters like Armstrong (Cable), Mercer County State Bank and the YMCA give money donations so we can do the entertainment and admission for free,” she explained.

“Everyone’s a volunteer and we couldn’t do it without them,” Mattocks added. “It takes a real army to make it work.”

For full schedules and events, see the Grove City Strawberry Days supplement in today’s paper and check www.gcdays.com for updates.

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Brandon Fortuna

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