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Crowd Savors Strawberry Festival

Potomac United Methodist Church’s signature fundraising event supports charities.

Strawberry Festival bake sale co-chairs Joanne Ogilvie (left) and Suzanne Eastman organize a table of desserts. Proceeds from the event support the Potomac United Methodist Church’s missions.

Strawberry Festival bake sale co-chairs Joanne Ogilvie (left) and Suzanne Eastman organize a table of desserts. Proceeds from the event support the Potomac United Methodist Church’s missions.

— There were strawberries a plenty in Potomac recently when the Potomac United Methodist Church held its 22nd annual Strawberry Festival.

Church volunteers clad in red polo shirts emblazoned with embroidered strawberry motifs helped shepherd a crowd of more than 1,200 people through activities that included a moon bounce and concert for children, a used book sale, a used clothing sale and a silent auction.

The festival is the church’s signature fundraising event. “I think it is a great model of the church working together and everyone bringing their gifts for a good purpose,” said Dr. Ann Laprade, pastor of Potomac United Methodist Church. “It connects us with the community. It is an outreach to the community from the church. It is about doing good.”

Festival-goers munched on strawberry-themed desserts and other baked goods. “Chocolate-covered strawberries and strawberry shortcake are always big hits,” said Candice Siegenthaler, one of the festival’s co-chairs. “We get the strawberries from a local farmer. We really try to keep it in the community.”

Organizers say the event takes months to plan: “We started back in February. It is non-stop. We really worked hundreds of hours,” said Siegenthaler. “We look for donations of books, clothing and other treasures all year long.”

The church donates proceeds from the festival to local charities, and officials estimate that the event raised more than $20,000. “It is so much fun being with my church family and all of our friends and neighbors in Potomac and Bethesda,” said Suzanne Eastman, co-chair of the bake sale. “It is a social occasion for such a good cause and the many church missions, like those to help battered women and children.”

In addition to raising money, organizers said the festival is a way to connect with others. “We’re so busy these days,” said Vickie Cooper, festival co-chair. “It takes time and effort to get involved with your church and this has been a great way to get to know people.”