From Saratoga Springs and Ocean Point to Strawberry Festival: Renewed Wiscasset tradition draws crowd

Sun, 06/26/2022 - 8:45am

    “This side is the outside,” Aoife Cunningham explained of the seashell in her hand. The Edgecomb 5-year-old got it at Strawberry Festival at St. Philip’s Church, Hodge Street, Wiscasset. Saturday was her and father Will Cunningham’s first time at the annual event.

    They loved every second, he said. What was the best part? “Strawberries,” she answered. The family is new to the area and had been seeing the event signs along Route 1 last week. Father and daughter were leaving Saturday with strawberry jam, the shell, a quart of strawberries and a cupcake he said had a strawberry in it. 

    Another first-timer lives nearer, on Federal Street. Bob Bond said the church did a good job with the event, and he hoped the strawberries would sell out. They were being picked as late as that morning, in the heat, Priest-in-Charge Tom Junkert said. It was his first Strawberry Festival, also, because the event, 60-plus years old, was off two years in the pandemic.

    “This is incredible,” the result of a lot of people’s effort, Junkert said looking around.

    At the bake sale, Readfield’s Amy Trunnell was eyeing the peach jam and mini pies she declared “cute as can be.”

    Jenny Baumgartner comes every year. The two years it was off were “heartbreaking,” the Woolwich woman said. “I missed just that community feel, all the people who are set up” and, downstairs, The Bargain Basement.

    Stephen Fox, with rescue dogs Athena and Rowsbywoof on leads, said his family, of Saratoga Springs, New York and vacationing in Ocean Point, had just had the strawberry shortcake with cream. “Delicious.” Wife Laura Surrick and daughters Rebecca and Lydia Fox concurred, saying that and the watermelon made a wonderful brunch; and they liked looking at everything on tables around the festival.

    Having it nearly all outside helped it be held this year, longtime St. Philip’s member and volunteer Gretchen Burleigh-Johnson said. “(I’m) very excited that we’re able to come back, and celebrate being together, being masked if you want to be masked, or not if you don’t ... You have that option, and that’s great.” 

    Son Oleg Johnson of Bath and Burleigh-Johnson’s Cape Cod roommate 45 years ago, Wiscasset’s Deborah Morgan, were among the volunteers for one of the few indoor duties, The Bargain Basement, in the cool basement on a day the National Weather Service said had already passed 80F by late morning. Morgan moved to Wiscasset six years ago. This was her third time helping at the festival. She explained, laughing, “If you stand close to Gretchen, you end up” volunteering a lot.