by DANNY WADE | Senior Editor
With just a few days until it is Strawberry Festival week, the excitement is growing day-by-day. Last week, Strawberry Festival President Shane Lynch and General Chairman Anne Short talked about the week’s events.
Besides Lynch and Short, other festival dignitaries this year are Honoree Judy Bowers and Honorary Grand Marshal T.G. Sheppard.
As a whole, President Lynch did not make a lot of changes to the schedule of events although some were tweaked a bit and some will have new venues. But for the most part, the festival schedule is the same as last year. The only big change this year is not having the BBQ Cookoff event.
Lynch and Short said the 85th annual West Tennessee Strawberry Festival kicks off on Sunday, May 7 with the West Tennessee Regional Art Center Invitational Art Exhibition. Featured artists this year are Valerie Porter, Paige Ward, Clay Palmer, Chris Nadaskay and Jason Stout. The exhibit runs from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. Admission is free.
Also on Sunday is the Royal-Tea in Berryland from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Opera House Event Hall. This was a new event last year and was very successful. The same excitement for the tea party continued this year with all the tickets selling out in a matter of minutes.
Sunday is the pick-up day for those purchasing Taste of the Festival promotion, also at the Opera House on Main St. from 4:30 until 5:30 p.m. Vouchers went on sale April 17 for $70. The vouchers are good for 15 different food venders that will be set up during festival week. Most of these tasty delights will be only for those purchasing Taste of the Festival promotion and will not be offered to the public. The only way to get these specialty delights is with the promotion.
Monday begins with the annual Prayer Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. in the Humboldt Medical Center conference room. Bill Kisner will be the featured speaker. Advance tickets are $10 and required.
Monday evening will be Opening Celebration at Barker Memorial Stadium (football field) beginning at 6 p.m. There will be a small program to introduce festival royalties and officials. The celebration is aimed at kids with lots of games and events. Concessions will be available to purchase. Following Opening Celebration is the ever-popular Fireworks Extravaganza right after sunset.
Tuesday has just one event, Berry Idol. This was a new event last year and was very successful. Berry Idol is a singing event and a preliminary to the Mid-South Fair in Memphis, Tenn. qualifier was held a few weeks ago and the top 15 will sing their hearts out on Tuesday evening in the Berry Idol finals inside Magnolia Manor & Chapel. The top three winners will be awarded.
Also on Tuesday, the carnival opens in downtown Humboldt.
Wednesday evening, downtown will be the place to be. Traffic will be blocked off on Main St. between Central Ave. and 14th Ave. It kicks off at 6 p.m. with Strawberry Shortcake in the Park at the downtown green space. There will also be Life of the Party Photo Booth in front of Magnolia Manor with free pictures.
Live entertainment for the evening will be the Bandstand Revue, which features the ultra-talented Paula, Katie and Emily McGill along with local musicians Danny Wade, Brandon Powers and Joseph Montgomery. Bring your lawn chairs or you can sit in the bleachers. Music begins at 6:30 p.m.
Thursday begins with a bang on Main St. at 10 a.m. for the Junior Floats Parade, the state’s largest non-motorized parade. Get there early and bring your lawn chairs to get a good spot.
The Strawberry Classic golf tournament, held at the Humboldt Golf & Country Club, is Thursday. Lunch and registration begins at noon with a shotgun start at 1 p.m.
Beginning at 3 p.m. will be the first of six pageants during the week. Junior Miss Territorial Revue begins at 3 p.m. in the Humboldt Jr./Sr. High School gym. There will be a $5 admission at the door.
Next, at 5 p.m. is the Miss Teen Territorial Revue, also in the gym with $5 admission.
The Humboldt Hall of Fame reception takes place at First United Methodist Church. This year’s inductees are Dorrington “Junior” Reid, Dr. Jan Delozier, Houston Herndon and B.C. Jarrell. The reception begins at 5 p.m. with presentations at 6 p.m. This is a free event.
Live Entertainment will fill the air with 12 South Band performing on the Main St. at the reviewing stand between 17th Ave. and 18th Ave. Music begins at 7 p.m.
Friday gets going with the grandfather of them all—the Grand Floats Parade. When people think of the Strawberry Festival, they think of this parade, and rightfully so. It is a spectacle to be seen each year. Grand Floats Parade begins at 10 a.m. on Main St. There will be floats, bands, festival dignitaries, pageant beauties galore, with a few politicians thrown in along the way. This is the event you do not want to miss. Get there early if you want a good view and do not forget your chairs and sunscreen.
After the parade, the Governor’s Luncheon will be held inside the Humboldt Medical Center at 12:30 p.m. Advance tickets are required. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee is scheduled to speak. As a long-time tradition, festival dignitaries will present a flat of locally grown strawberries to Gov. Lee.
Friday evening is a time for the local young ladies to shine with the Junior Hostess Princess Revue at 5 p.m. and the Hostess Princess Revue at 7 p.m. These pageants take place in the HJSHS gym. There is a $5 admission fee for each.
One of the longest running events is the Strawberry Festival Horse Show. The annual walking horse show is held at the Chalmus Davenport Arena on Elliott St. and begins at 6:30 p.m. Horses, owners and riders come from all across the mid-south to compete in multiple categories, all hoping to bring home the Grand Champion title. Admission is $5.
Another new event last year was the Strawberry Festival Cornhole Tournament. It was held at Bailey Park last year, but this year the tournament will be held in the East Elementary School gym. Registration is at 6 p.m. with bags flying at 7 p.m.
Saturday if the final day of the week-long festival. It kicks off with the 5k & 10K Run at Bailey Park. Registration takes place at 7 a.m. followed by the races at 8 a.m.
Also at 8 a.m. is the Car Show held at Viking Park. Car enthusiasts from all over bring their prize cars, trucks and motorcycles to compete in multiple categories with hopes of bringing home Best of Show trophies. There will be an area with antique tractors on display (non-compete). Humboldt Area Rescue Squad operates the Car Show and is their biggest fundraiser of the year. Concessions will be available for purchase. There is a registration fee to enter vehicles to compete, but admission for the public to check out the rides is free.
Strawberry Market on Main opens at 10 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. on Saturday. It is held inside the Opera House on Main St. Venders will be selling their wares with a wide variety of items.
Little Miss Territorial Revue begins at 11 a.m. Saturday morning inside the HJSHS Thomas Ray Boykin Gymnasium. Admission is $5.
The week culminates with the Territorial Revue at 6 p.m. where the final queen of the week will be crowned. The Territorial Revue is also held in the gym and admission is $5.
The Strawberry Festival is a week-long event and often times the best times are had while not attending an event. People will be walking up and down Main St. all week long, visiting the many concession stands at practically every corner. Speaking of concessions, there is something new this year. The Humboldt Senior Citizens Center on Central Ave., just off of Main, will have concession stands on the parking lot to create a food court.
The West Tennessee Strawberry Festival is a tradition that began in 1934. During its existence, the festival has only been canceled three times—twice during WWII and then in 2020 due to the covid pandemic. There are five other Strawberry Festivals in Tennessee but the West Tennessee Strawberry Festival is the oldest and the best (if you ask people from this neck of the woods). Make plans to attend any or all of the events of Humboldt’s claim to fame—the West Tennessee Strawberry Festival.