The 110th Lebanon Strawberry Festival will continue many old traditions while also making some changes which will hopefully improve the experience for the thousands in attendance.
Those who go to the festival grounds at Cheadle Lake Park will notice that the site is fenced for the first time.
Jami Cate, the chair of the Lebanon Strawberry Festival board, said this will improve security at the site by controlling the points of entry and exit.
The festival has maxed out its parking in recent years, so for the first time, there will be a shuttle service to Cheadle Lake Park. The shuttle service will operate only on Saturday, June 1.
Festival attendees can park at the Calvary Chapel (the former Elks Lodge), 633 Park Street; the First Assembly of God, 726 W. Oak Street; or the First United Methodist Church, 1890 S. Second Street. The shuttle will operate all day.
"People can stay for the fireworks, which will be even bigger this year, and then take the shuttle back to their cars," Cate said.
If the shuttle service is successful, it may be expanded in future years.
On Sunday morning, June 2, Cheadle Lake Park will host a community church service. Organized by Transform Lebanon, 10 local churches are working together to hold a joint service on the main stage.
One change in the schedule is actually a return to the way the festival used to be. For many years, the Strawberry Festival queen was crowned during a ceremony at Lebanon High School. This event was held prior to the festival.
This year, the queen will be crowned during a ceremony on the main stage at 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 31. Cate said this is in keeping with the earliest traditions of the festival when the queen would be crowned downtown during the festivities.
Because this year's ceremony will be held at Cheadle Lake Park during the festival, it is hoped that many more people will be able to share the experience.
The coronation will be followed by a performance by the Dusty Rhoades Band, who will be followed by headliner Steve Holy.
There will also be opportunities for festival attendees to connect with the event's long history. There will be displays of festival court dresses at several locations around town: the Lebanon Area Habitat for Humanity and Restore, 566 S. Main Street, and the store front next door at 550 S. Main Street; Frill & Thread, 745 S. Main Street; and the Linn County Art Guild, 605 S. Main Street.
And for the third time, there will be a special float in the main parade for members of past Strawberry Festival Courts. This reunion float was created for the 100th edition of the festival in 2009 and returned in 2014.
Cate has done much of the work contacting past court members.
"It's been really fun to get them involved. You read emails and letters from them and you get to know them," Cate said. "They're in every walk of life, all over the world. They're a part of the history of this festival and of our town."
Several other recently introduced elements will return for this year's festival:
- Thursday, May 30, will once again be All Heroes Day with special offers and recognition for veterans, active duty military personnel and first responders.
- The Grand Parade will once again be live-streamed online. Those who are unable to attend may watch the parade through a link on the Strawberry Festival's Facebook page.
- The Junior Parade on Friday will once again flow in the regular direction of traffic on Main Street. This parade will begin at Rose Street and proceed south to Maple Street. The Boys & Girls Club will serve as the staging area and the parade will begin at 2:30 p.m.