Around this time 40 years ago, a group of ambitious Community School volunteers found themselves in the throes of preparation for Community School’s First Annual Strawberry Festival. Their goals were simple. Bake and sell a minimum of 2000 shortcakes. Raise a minimum of $2000 for Community School. Families and volunteers were tasked with baking shortcakes at home and then delivering them to school to be frozen and stored or prepared in time to be sold at the festival. Every last strawberry was washed, capped and sliced by hand. Five hundred plus quarts of strawberries! Notes on the festival describe it as both a smashing success and a highly miscalculated adventure!
On May 1 and 2, 2020 we had plans to celebrate Community School’s 40th Annual Strawberry Festival. Fifty plus volunteers would have gathered a couple of weeks ago to bake nearly 10,000 shortcakes in a single day. On the eve of the event, 7000 pints of fresh strawberries would still have been washed and capped by hand, though mechanized slicers have streamlined the slicing process a bit. Weather permitting, the event would have drawn approximately 20,000 strawberry lovers to Elmwood Park in downtown Roanoke and, with the generous help of a couple hundred volunteers, we would have raised tens of thousands of dollars for Community School. What a difference 40 years makes!
While we are deeply saddened to miss the community, the tradition, and, of course, the shortcakes this year, we invite you to join us for a socially distant Strawberry Festival. On May 1 and 2, from your home, bake some shortcakes, slice some strawberries, pile on some vanilla ice cream and go crazy with the whipped cream. Savor a little taste of our Community School tradition and celebrate all that it represents. For added inspiration, we’ve included the original “secret recipe” from 1981. Happy Strawberry Festival!