CHESHIRE — Eighty years ago, a group of ladies from the First Congregational Church of Cheshire put some strawberry shortcake out on the front lawn of the church and invited the neighbors over.
Today, it takes about 530 quarts of strawberries from Zentek Farms, 90 dozen biscuits and a whole mess of whipped cream to take care of all of the people who come to the Cheshire Strawberry Festival and Craft Fair. The 81st annual festival, hosted by Church on the Green, was held on Saturday. The festival is the church’s major fundraiser for the year.
For event organizer Gary Logsdon, a Wolcott resident, the festival is the culmination of a year’s worth of planning and work.
“It feels like we are sharing with the entire community,” Logsdon said. “We try to keep it a hometown event. We don’t want it to look too professional, but we want our guests to find what they are looking for.”
The Cheshire Community Band provided entertainment, playing show tunes for the crowd. Community organizations, including the library and the historical society, among others, showed off their wares. Cheshire resident Ilona Somogyi, one of the founders of Ball and Socket Arts, a proposed arts and entertainment complex in town, used the festival as an opportunity to introduce more people to her venture.
“So much of what today is about is family, I feel like we are totally a natural mix. There are not many places here where large cross sections of people can get together,” she said.
Friends Nicole Potter and Alyssa Diaz, both Cheshire residents, brought their kids out to play on the Green. Potter was on her second strawberry shortcake of the afternoon.
“I come every year. All of the events in Cheshire are really family oriented. It feels very tight knit. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming. You see the people you haven’t seen all winter,” Potter said.
People didn't seem to be in any hurry at the fair. Families sat under the tent and talked. Kids slid down the big bouncy slide. Adults wandered around looking at the crafts. The community band played highlights from The Lion King.
People were sitting on the front steps of the church, eating shortcake and hot dogs, right underneath a large sign, one easily read from almost any vantage point.
“You are our neighbor,” the sign said.
“No matter who you vote for, your skin color, your faith, or who you love, we will try to be here for you. That’s what community means. Let’s be neighbors,” the sign said.