The Strawberry Festival is back. The Potomac United Methodist Church event features the some of the best chocolate-covered strawberries one will ever taste as well as an opportunity to spend a day shopping for one-of-a-kind items at the boutique, searching through Home Treasures for that perfect piece for one’s home, or sampling the home-baked goodies from the bake sale.
Lines form early to enter the doors of the Potomac United Methodist Church’s education building on Falls Road. Each year, more than 1,000 eager shoppers and hungry people can’t wait to snatch up bargains and savor the homemade strawberry shortcake. In addition to shopping, the free festival is a family event. Fun games are held for children while parents shop. Favorite lunch items — hotdogs, hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches — are served.
The festival was founded 24 years ago by Potomac United Methodist Church member Judith Dubowy who is also the creator of the homemade shortcake with hand-whipped cream — her own secret recipe. Dubowy is moving south this year and her daughter Jennifer is taking on the task of strawberry desserts.
In addition to the delectable strawberry shortcake, chocolate lovers vie for Becky Queen’s chocolate-dipped strawberries. “I use stemmed presentation berries,” she said. “Lots of people want to take them home to save for later — but I tell people to buy and eat them as quickly as possible.” The proceeds of the Strawberry Festival — usually about $25,000 — support over 20 local charities as well as the mission work of the church. Some of the organizations that receive donations include For the Love of Children, St. Joseph’s House, Montgomery Ave. Women’s Shelter, Reese’s Rainbow, Manna Food Center, PEP (Parent Encouragement Program), A Wider Circle and SHARE Girl Scouts.
Two members of the Potomac United Methodist Church Women’s Group, Candice Siegenthaler and Vickie Cooper, are co-chairing the event for the third year.
“The Strawberry Festival is an event driven by the women's group of the church and supported in many ways by the men and youth groups — Potomac Glen Day School lets us use their school rooms and let's not forget the Boy Scouts too,” Siegenthaler said. “We are fortunate to have dedicated friends, family and our church members. Many of the women involved with the festival have worked tirelessly on it year over year, like Judith and former chair, Renee Antosh, and now a fresh infusion of leaders and volunteers are stepping up to make the festival happen this year and to help continue its success year after year.”
The Silent Auction rooms always draw a crowd. Bidding gets intense as shoppers vie for restaurant gift certificates, sports tickets, home décor items, special gift baskets that children will enjoy and more. Visitors can bid on golf lessons with a top-rated pro; a limo for that special night out — or check out the special items donated by Strawberry Festival vendors.
And then there is shopping.
Antosh, who coordinates the vendor section said, “Our vendors exhibit everything from hand-made jewelry, to linens direct from France. Some of the vendors we will feature are Noto Jewelry, Elan Indique, Lookalikes Jewelry, Queen Bee, Indigo Moon Clothing, Joesph Ribkoff Clothing, Sassy Touch Designs, Stella and Dot Jewelry, Sharon Newell custom jewelry as well as pen and ink drawings of your home, Iris Grundler Pottery, ‘That’s Glassic’ fused glass — and much more. This year, we are very proud to introduce a new category of vendors unique to the Strawberry Festival — entrepreneurs who will be debuting their products and services to our shoppers. ‘Contained Beauty’ combines container design with product placement of plants as an approach to small gardens. These are designed for those who are ‘downsizing,’ who have small yards or who currently live in apartments or condos. ‘Fields of Bags’ offers bags and carry items for home storage and everyday solutions for organizing any space. ‘Lay-N-Go, LLC’ is a new company that provides innovational storage items for play, travel and life.”
In addition to new articles, the Chic Boutique offers “gently used” clothing for women and children and the “Home Treasures” section features home furnishings as well as estate sale pieces. There will also be value-priced sporting items, toys, books and DVDs.
Cooper and Siegenthaler are proud to chair the event — but feel they could not do it without support. “It literally takes hundreds of volunteers from our congregation to plan and carry out the festival,” Cooper said. “It is a lot of work and the preparation begins early in the year. We do it year after year because it brings us together as a congregation, allows us to reach out to the community, and every dollar we raise goes to charities serving the needs of women and children in our local community. It’s a very worthy cause and a really fun day. We hope to see everyone there this Saturday, May 17.”
The Potomac United Methodist Church Strawberry Festival will be held from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Potomac United Methodist Church, 9908 S. Glen Road, Potomac. To learn more go to www.potomac-umc.org.