Strawberry Festival fun for all

Foot and car traffic was thick Saturday at Our Lady of Peace School, as the school’s 27th annual Strawberry Festival dodged the threat of rain and hauled in hundreds of visitors for a berry-based fundraiser.

“I think we’ve had a good turnout, despite the weather,” said school booster Pam Mentrup, who helped organize the event. “The berries are very big right now ... and they’re still very juicy and sweet.”

Sampling the goodies was OLP’s principal, Stephen Hickey, who took a pie in the face as a part of the fundraising festivities.

Kathleen Wahl, one of the event’s organizers, noted that Hickey was expecting a pie, but did not realize that strawberry puree (and not just Cool Whip) was among the ingredients.

Hickey gave the gathering (and the pie flavor) a thumbs-up review.

“This is probably the biggest turnout we’ve had in the past two or three years, and it’s not only parishioners and school families, but community families.” Hickey said he appreciates the chance “to expand past the parish.”

Hickey took a turn in the festival’s dunking booth, as did both of school’s soccer coaches and four eighth-grade students, Wahl noted.

“They drew a big crowd,” Wahl said.

In keeping with the festival’s origins, the strawberries themselves were courtesy of Gurosik’s Berry Plantation, in the Merriwether area.

“They processed about 95 to 100 gallons to make things,” said Marilyn Gurosik, one of the farm’s co-owners.

She said fresh strawberry sales included 60 gallon units and 54 quart units, and noted that this year’s crop, despite having been delayed by March’s unusually cool weather, is in good shape.