On living in Miami County:
I have lived in Troy since 1987. My husband’s employer transferred him here. We moved from the East Coast with our three sons. I fell in love with Troy and the area. We decided we didn’t want to move!

On the Troy Strawberry Festival:
In 1977 local leaders organized the Troy Strawberry Festival to support nonprofit organizations. The festival created a way for nonprofit groups to earn revenue. This money went to support their services and programs. The festival is a collaborative effort. Instead of each nonprofit trying to earn revenue on their own, they work together. The leaders wanted to work with Fulton Farms for the festival. They first thought of a sweet corn festival. They went with strawberries instead because it’s the first available fruit. That way we are one of the first large festivals in our region. We kick off the summer season for the county. At the beginning of summer you have Memorial Day and then right away is the Strawberry Festival. If we had been the Sweet Corn Festival we’d be in August near the end of the summer, almost forgotten. And who doesn’t love a strawberry?

In the beginning, the festival had forty-five nonprofits and a variety of activities. Now we have about 60 to 70 nonprofits that have food booths at the festival. We also have arts and craft booths as well as two stages of entertainment all throughout the weekend. For the past 41 years, we still hold true to our vision and mission of supporting the nonprofits in Miami County.

There are so many things to do at the festival! We have a 10K race, a bike tour and a shortcake race for the kids. We have a Little Miss and Mr. Strawberry Pageant, a big wheel race, and a diaper derby. There’s a pie-eating contest and the alumni football game between Troy and Piqua. There’s a lot going on! Whatever day you decide to come — or if you come for both days — you’ll find something to enjoy. We will have picnic tables around each stage so you can relax and enjoy the strawberries and music! We have the schedule and more information on our website at gostrawberries.com.

How she became involved with the Troy Strawberry Festival:
I started out as a volunteer for the festival fifteen years ago. I have been the business manager for the past three years. It’s seemed like the natural transition for me. Through my involvement with volunteering, I developed an understanding of the festival. In 2012 I was the General Chairman. This is my third year as the business manager.

It’s so much fun working with the volunteers. They truly have passion, drive and the desire to keep the mission of the festival going. It’s a great group of about 45 to 50 event chairmen and their volunteers underneath them. We could not do the festival without the City of Troy. We work with the city and they are the best partners. We have help from organizations throughout Miami County too. It’s a lot of fun and people enjoy it. Their energy drives my energy. We never stop planning the festival. Once one festival ends we start working on the next one. It’s a lot of fun!

On the community response to the Troy Strawberry Festival:
Last year we had some rainy weather but we estimated we had about 135,000 people during the entire weekend. On a good year when it’s sunny and beautiful with temperatures in the mid-70s to 80s we can have 150,000 to 200,000 people. It’s awesome – especially for a city of 26,000 people!

Even though it’s the “Troy” Strawberry Festival, it’s actually about Miami County. There are nonprofits that provide services and support throughout the county. We’re embracing and supporting the entire regional area. We want people to know that yes, it is the Troy Strawberry Festival, but that’s because it takes place in Troy. We support the entire Miami County community.

New and exciting changes for the 2017 Strawberry Festival:
This year students at the Upper Valley Career Center built a cell phone charging station for us. The students got aluminum from the welding department. They went to the auto body department and painted it red. The graphics department created the graphics. Apple and Android users will be able to use the station. It has at least 18 different places to charge your phone — it’s amazing! I love it when we can get kids involved in creating a project.

This year you can bike to the festival! The Miami County Park District is putting up bike racks near the ball fields. They partnered with a nonprofit. For a small donation, you can park your bike and volunteers will keep watch while you enjoy the festival.

Something else that is new this year is the 3¢ stamp. This year the 3¢ stamp created by the United States Postal Service is a strawberry stamp. We were able to have a special cancellation stamp made through the Troy Post Office. If you come and get a strawberry stamp, you can put the strawberry cancellation stamp on it. We will also have special Strawberry Festival postcards. They will have the 3¢ strawberry stamp and the cancellation stamp. They will be at the souvenir booth — but we only have 200!

We have a great national recording artist, Morgan Alexander, for Friday night. Saturday night’s big concert will be with Exploit. They are a 70s and 80s group out of Celina. They are a lot of fun and have a lot of energy. There will be entertainment from Rum River Blend, blues and jazz groups, and dance groups.

We also have new food and new food trucks this year! There will be spinach salads and roasted Brussels sprouts with strawberry dressings. There will be sweets like strawberry donuts and strawberries with lemon cream. You name it – we probably have it! We will have favorites that we have every year, like chocolate covered strawberries! Our food trucks and food vendors all partner with a nonprofit. They share their net profits from the weekend. The food vendors have signage for the nonprofit group they have partnered with. It’s a great way for small nonprofits to earn revenue to support their programs.

We could not do this festival without the volunteers, the City of Troy and our wonderful sponsors. It’s great to have business partners from the community supporting this festival. They believe in it and they help bring visibility to our community.

What do you love most about Miami County?
I love that Miami County has so many opportunities for outdoor activities. Piqua and Troy have great outdoor concert series. There’s the Miami County Riverway — you can go to Treasure Island and rent a kayak for a river adventure. We’re very blessed to have a strong parks system — in the county and cities. I like to take my grandson bike riding, we usually stop and get ice cream and then get back on the bike path. There are so many interesting things within this county. It’s beautiful! I love Fulton Farms and the farmer’s markets. I embrace every bit of it! Once the festival is over, I’ll have time to get out there and enjoy it. That’s another great thing about the festival being in June, I have the rest of the summer to enjoy the county! I love it!

How Miami County is different from other places she has lived:
I’ve lived in the city and city suburbs which have a different feeling. There are a lot more people — you feel like you can’t move around without bumping into someone. I don’t want to say Miami County is more laid back because there are a lot of things to do here. But you have the space to find a park bench, kick back and relax a little bit and enjoy the view. There’s more of a relaxed, laid-back attitude here. It’s also very family friendly. It’s the perfect place to be.

Her Miami County recommendations for out-of-town visitors (besides the Troy Strawberry Festival):
I’m a very outdoorsy person so I recommend all the different parks. Visitors should definitely take advantage of our museums like the WACO Air Museum. I recommend visiting each community within Miami County. Every Main Street has its own unique flavor! Enjoy each area, visit the individual shops and restaurants downtown. Definitely check out the unique coffee shops, like Winans Chocolates + Coffees. Keep investigating and check out the activities like concert series or outdoor activities. Support the local restaurants and check out the different unique features. There’s so much to do. I love every single thing about it!

Troy Strawberry Festival
First weekend in June


This story first appeared on the Miami County Convention and Visitors Bureau website.  Follow author,  storyteller and interviewer, Courtney Denning, at ThisOhioLife.com.