There is nothing like a good old-fashioned New England Strawberry or Blueberry festival. Though there are hundreds of fruit festivals, which celebrate just about any fruit imaginable throughout the New England area, blueberries and strawberries are two of the very few fruits that are native to our part of the United States. Because of this, New England strawberry and blueberry fairs are steeped in tradition, with recorded origins dating back to the 1800’s.
Originally, berry festivals were yearly traditions hosted by local churches to celebrate the berry harvest and provide a sense of community. Berry festivals gave people a reason to get out and socialize during a time period when rural living, farming and hard work did not allow for much free time. These days counties, towns and communities are organizing the events as a way to promote commerce and raise money for local businesses and non profit organizations.
Most fairs are held over the course of one weekend during the summer. Strawberry and blueberry fairs and festivals usually begin at the crack of dawn with a fruity pancake breakfast, with the proceeds benefiting a local non-profit organization. Sometimes a fair will have a square dance or public concert to kick off or cap off the event.
The main attraction is the fair ground—where a variety of information, resources and growing, preserving and canning tips for berries is provided.
Berry pies, cakes, muffins, breads, tarts, jams and jellies may be sampled and/or sold. There is usually live entertainment and prize-driven games—such as a pie-eating or berry-recipe contest—going on throughout the day or weekend.
Decadent treats such as berry pie and ice cream; berry sauces and syrups; berry cobbler and shortcake; dried berries; and chocolate covered berries are available. New and unusual uses for berries are introduced each year and are often times available to sample or purchase. I have seen blueberry skin care products—including a berry exfoliating face mask, berry scented candles, soaps, and berry lip balm. Organic berry baby and pet foods, and berry beer and wine. Some fairs have a special children’s section with berry themed activities and games.
A good old fashioned New England blueberry or strawberry festival is guaranteed fun for all ages, and finding one near you is as easy as pie.
Minted Blueberry or Strawberry Ade
- 2 Cups of fresh berries
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Juice of 2 oranges
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 cup crushed pineapple
- Crushed ice
- Fresh mint sprigs
- Liquefy the first five ingredients in a blender. Serve over cracked ice with a sprig of mint garnish. Yield: 5 cups.
Recipe modified from The Country Art of Blueberry Cookery By: Mrs. Clifford Davis , c. 1971
Strawberry or blueberry salad dressing
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil <http://www.food.com/library/olive-oil-495>
- 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 crushed garlic cloves <http://www.food.com/library/garlic-165>
- 2 teaspoon berry jam
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- Combine all ingredients, shake or whisk vigorously in a non-metallic container.
- Pour into a non-metallic container, cap and store in the refrigerator.
Berry scented room spray/air freshener:
- 1 cup of distilled water.
- 10 drops of essential berry oil.
- 1/2 teaspoon of a glycerin.
- Fill a spray bottle with the distilled water.
- Add the drops of essential blueberry or strawberry oil.
- Add the glycerin .
- Shake the mixture vigorously. Be sure to shake the mixture before each use.