BUCKHANNON – Are you ready for a blast from the Strawberry Festival past?
If so, you’re in luck because the Upshur County Historical Society is giving people a chance to look back at Strawberry Festivals of a bygone era.
Director of Special Projects for the Upshur County Historical Society Noel Tenney said the center will have a mini-exhibit on display in the repository, located at 29 W. Main Street, entitled “The Historic Children of the Strawberry Festival.”
The exhibit will open Tuesday, May 14 at 1 p.m.
“This is about the fourth or fifth year we have done this little exhibit in the repository, and we’ve always focused on the early children’s role in the festival,” Tenney said. “We focus on that because they did play a more major role then than they do now – even though they still do the youth parade (Junior Royalty Parade) and things like that, but these were very elaborate programs that started in 1937.”
He said the children’s programs such as the children’s parade was popular until the festival was shut down in 1942 due to World War II.
“The ‘Children’s Parade’ was the main focus with all these children from Upshur County – I mean, hundreds of children in costume in the 1930s,” Tenney said. “During that time there was the WPA (Works Progress Administration) program that was a government work program [of the New Deal] that had a sewing project here in Upshur County, and they made a lot of those costumes.”
He said in later years, community children’s role in the festival was not as extensive or elaborate as before.
“Later on, most of the children’s participation was in the Junior Royalty Parade and in [other events] like that in the ‘50s or ‘60s whenever that all got going, so we do have costumes from that period [of the Junior Royalty Parade] and a couple photographs as well,” Tenney added.
The exhibit will feature photographs throughout the vestibule and about seven or eight costumes will be on display for people to see. Another part of the exhibit will be a book sale at which people can peruse and purchase the historical society’s collection of journals, past publications yearbooks, magazines and current publications.
Tenney said festival attendees interested in making purchases should consider the book/journal sale a prime opportunity to pounce on low prices.
“We need space more than we need boxes and boxes of old publications, but we are also going to have current publications that will be heavily discounted, so if you were looking to purchase one, this would be the time to do it,” Tenney said.
The exhibit and book sale will start May 14 and run from 1-8 p.m. It will continue tp be open to visitors from 1-6 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, through Friday, May 17.