Strawberry Festival Board President Shane Jenkins

This year’s Strawberry Festival will feature a streamlined schedule and fireworks finale

BUCKHANNON – The 2023 West Virginia Strawberry Festival will feature a revamped schedule of events that promises to end with a bang — literally. A fireworks show is returning to the schedule this year on the final Saturday of the festival, May 20.

Strawberry Festival Board President Shane Jenkins attended the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday to outline several notable changes to this year’s festival. The festivities will kick off Saturday, May 13 and run through Sunday, May 21.

“We moved our opening ceremonies to the first Saturday, which is May 13,” Jenkins said. “Our opening ceremonies were traditionally on Wednesday, and that doesn’t make sense, so we’d rather open our events on our first official day.”

The opening ceremonies will usher in the start of the festival in front of the Upshur County Courthouse at 10 a.m. on May 13. Other events have also been moved up to an earlier date.

“Our pet show, which has existed for a few years, is going to take place at the city dog park at 11 a.m. on May 13,” Jenkins said. “If you haven’t been, make sure you go to that, because if you like animals as much as I do, it’s really cool. We also added the coronation to that day, along with opening ceremonies, because we don’t technically have a queen until coronation. We have a queen-elect right now, and that title will become official at 6:30 p.m. on May 13 at West Virginia Wesleyan College Chapel.”

On Tuesday, May 16, Stockert Youth and Community Center will offer a Family Fun Day, which is free for all participants. The carnival will open on Wednesday.

“On Wednesday, we have a couple of really big additions,” Jenkins said. “At 5 p.m., we have our bowling tournament, which is the second one that we’ve ever done. Our first one went well, so we’re moving forward with another one at Woody’s Bowling Center.

“We also added what we are calling the ‘Strawberry Shindig,’ and our goal is to provide an opportunity for us to showcase our West Virginia and local Buckhannon culture. We bring in a lot of these groups from outside the country and outside of the state, and we want everybody look at their cultures, but [previously] we didn’t necessarily say, ‘Let’s let them look at our culture.’”

The events on Thursday and Friday are similar to previous years, with a few favorites returning after a brief hiatus.

“We have the return of the Upshur County Historical Society exhibit, which has not taken place since COVID, so we’re excited to add that back into the schedule,” Jenkins said. “The quilt and art shows have also been absent for a few years, and with Wesleyan’s help, we’ve been able to add them back down at Wesleyan’s gym, so we’re really excited about that as well.”

On Saturday, the Classic Car Parade returns to the front of the Grand Feature Parade.

“On Saturday, we moved a couple of things around,” Jenkins said. “At 1 p.m. will be the Grand Feature Parade, as usual, but before that, we will do the Antique Tractor and Engine Parade, which will also take place with our Classic Car Parade. We moved the Classic Car Parade back to before the Grand Feature Parade, and then they’re going to come back around after the Grand Feature Parade and park on Main Street for the show.”

To close out festivities on Saturday, the Strawberry Festival will hold a fireworks show at around 10:45 p.m.

“That will take place where the City of Buckhannon usually sets those off, right there behind the bank, so you’ll be able to see them from just about anywhere we have our events,” Jenkins said.

A Facebook post credited Par Mar Stores and the Upshur County Development Authority for making the fireworks happen this year.

Finally, Jenkins said the festival is will feature local restaurants that offer special strawberry treats during the festival.

“You should check out our strawberry menu,” Jenkins told Chamber members. “If you’re not familiar with that, it’s another thing that has come to fruition over the past few years. It highlights local businesses and restaurants and some strawberry items they have on their menu.

“We had a lot of people coming to us and saying, ‘It’s Strawberry Festival, but I can’t really find any strawberries other than maybe food from the vendors at Jawbone,’ so we decided to help out our local businesses by helping them advertise their strawberry menu items, so make sure you check that out.”

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