Experiences & News

Sweet Home Arkansas!

by Gina of Ravenna, Michigan, Quitman, Arkansas

A sure sing of spring down here in the South is the plethora of festivals that pop up in almost every town, large and small. Since moving to Arkansas almost four years ago, I've made a list of must-attend festivals every single year. With the exception of our town's Springfest, I haven't checked off any of them! That is, until two weekends ago when I ventured out to the Strawberry Festival in Cabot. 
My expectations were pretty high. I imagined rows upon rows of farm stands and strawberries spilling out into the streets. I had hoped to spot farmers offering sweet samples of their delicious fruits and the sticky, red-mouthed faces of children enjoying local grown strawberries. I thought there would be sweet strawberry treats to delight my eyes and tickle my taste buds. My vision included a sweet Southern Strawberry Queen pageant with the old-fashioned fares of beauty and charm taking center stage and the crowned belle floating atop a juicy red strawberry float. Perhaps I expected too much or my visions are just fantastical movie-like dreams of a northern girl experiencing the South for the first time. 
Indeed, what I did find was charming; there were rows of local vendors pedaling their wares and services {not strawberry related, however}. There were bright smiling children lined up to have their faces painted. There were a couple of carnival rides to satisfy the adventure seeker and festival games to try one's luck. What seemed to be the highlight of festival activities, though, was the dunk tank. The crowd was thin and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, the festival, and the lovely sense of community there in Cabot. I especially enjoyed watching a group of young gymnasts readying themselves for an exhibition.

But, there was one very important element lacking: strawberries. By noon on Saturday the strawberry festival had run out of fruit! It seems that one must show up early to vie for sweet Arkansas strawberries. Luckily, just as I was heading to the car, saddened and forlorn and with my hopes of fresh strawberry shortcake dashed...one last, emergency truck-load of the sweet fruit was unloaded and ready for purchase! 
At last, I had my box of strawberries in hand. And, while I would have liked to see and experience more strawberry-related events, booths, and activities...I quite enjoyed the quiet, laid back nature of my first Arkansas festival. Not to mention the sweet strawberries! They were, after all, the center of attention and the reason for celebration and they made for one delicious weekend: strawberry shortcake, fresh strawberry pie, and sweet strawberry jam. 

Visit my blog Desperately Seeking {gina} at isogina.blogspot.com for the recipes!