Crowds filled Depot Park, the Festhalle and all the space between.
CULLMAN – Whatever evil the weather did to day one of the 2017 Strawberry Festival, it more than made up for on day two. Where Friday was cold, windy and rainy, Saturday saw bright sunshine and temperatures in the 70s, with just enough breeze to keep everyone cooled off.
When the sun came out, so did the people. Thousands of visitors packed the craft show at Depot Park, the farmers’ market at the Festhalle and the children’s activity area in between. Numerous food vendors supplied a variety of meals and snacks, while area organizations advertised their goods and services. With only short breaks to change acts, live music came from the festival stage all day.
Saturday’s turnout is expected to exceed last year’s attendance. Cullman City Parks and Recreation’s Waid Harbison said, “I would expect it to be almost what it was last year. We estimated last year about 10,000 over two days. Because we didn’t do last night, it’ll probably be down a little bit; but our Saturday attendance will be bigger than it was, just because it’s great weather out here.
“It’s so much better. The weather’s looking great: 75 degrees is looking like the high today. Fantastic weather today; not too hot, and a little bit of a breeze going. All 125 vendors showed up, so we’ve got a great turnout of our craft vendors. We’ve had tons of great performances on the live stage, and we’ve got a lot of great bands going all through the day, through 10 o’clock tonight. We’ll have live bands going the whole time.”
Harbison also talked about the original reason behind the festival: strawberries and the farmers who produce them.
“It’s been a really good event. We’ve had a lot of people turn out; we’ve even seen kids from the state track meet (at Cullman High School) over here. That’s always a good thing, when they come support the local farmers; because really, it’s all about the local farmers selling the strawberries. Almost every single year we sell out of strawberries. Last year, we just didn’t anticipate the crowd being so big, and we ran out of strawberries earlier than anticipated. So these farmers have been planning basically since June of last year to plant more strawberries than they did in previous years for this season. So they’ve got a lot more strawberries to sell this season.”
Harbison took a moment to brag on CP&R’s staff before he got back to work.
“Our staff has done an awesome job putting this together. It’s been a huge team effort; any time we do a big event like this, it’s a team effort. Especially with the Strawberry Festival being our biggest event that we do every year, all of our departments have kicked in staff and gotten people here. It’s not easy to get all this over here to Depot Park. If you drive around the week before, there’s nothing here, so it does take quite an effort to get everything over here. Our staff are passionate about what they do, they care about the community, they love what they’re doing; so we really appreciate them kicking in and putting in the extra hours.”
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