WESTFIELD – Local strawberries will soon be in season and just in time for the 152nd annual Strawberry Festival, hosted by parishioners of the Episcopal Church of the Atonement on Court Street.
This year’s co-chairs, Tammy Joseph and Tom Walsh, and their steering committee are putting the finishing touches on festival logistics which is slated June 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. on the church lawn and from 6 to 8 p.m. during Westfield on Weekends’ Concert on the Green. Tickets are $5.
Each year, proceeds raised from the strawberry festival benefit a charitable organization in the city, and this year’s recipient will be Our House. Our House is currently under construction on Broad Street and will feature 10 private apartments and common living and eating space for unaccompanied youth ages 17 to 25.
Joseph noted in a recent interview with Reminder Publications that net proceeds from the festival will be used to supplement furnishings throughout the house.
“We hope to exceed last year’s goal,” said Walsh, noting that $5,000 was raised in 2014 with proceeds benefiting The Kinship Fund which serves unaccompanied students at Westfield High School.
Firtion Adams Funeral Services is the lead sponsor of the event, with the Kiwanis Club of Westfield sponsoring the booth on the common. Additionally, Joseph and her husband Mike are funding the purchase of strawberries (20 flats and counting), Bill and Jan Parks are funding the ingredients to make 800 biscuits that morning, Cindy Watson is funding the purchase of the Friendly’s vanilla ice cream, and Deb Gardner and Sally Angers are funding the supplies needed for the dollops of whipped cream needed for both the Strawberry Shortcake and the Strawberry Sundaes.
“We encourage area residents to attend to taste our delicious quality products served by very friendly people,” said Walsh, noting that some of the servers will be members of Westfield High School’s National Honor Society.
Joseph echoed those sentiments.
“It’s our church’s mission to be drawn in by grace and to reach out in love,” she said, adding that a lot of hard work will assist young people in high school who want to better their lives. “We hope this event will also draw attention to Our House and the needs of unaccompanied youth in our community.”
The Westfield High School Jazz Combo, under the direction of Patrick Kennedy, will perform on the church lawn during the event, and for those who enjoy the treats on the common, a concert is planned by Westfield on Weekends. Portable picnic tables will be provided on the church lawn and lawn chairs are also welcome. In the event of inclement weather, the festivities will be conducted in the Great Room at the church.
Assisting Joseph and Walsh behind the scenes are Bill Parks, Bob Legalos, Sue and Gary Cole, Helen Mahler, Sally Angers and Barb Langmore.
Tickets can be purchased in advance starting June 1 at the church office, weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., or at the Westfield Boys and Girls Club from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sponsorship opportunities also include “Table Angels” for $50. Table Angels will be recognized on stand-up signs on tables located on the church front lawn.
Both Joseph and Walsh promise that patrons will be treated to a fun event that will be laced with “TLC.”
“Everything will be homemade and baked that morning in our church kitchen,” said Joseph.
Walsh added that not only will everyone be treated to a tasty dessert, but they will also be contributing to a worthwhile cause in the community.
“Our benefit will also help people realize there are young people in our community who face desperate conditions each day,” he said.
For more information on becoming a Table Angel or for more details on the festival, contact Joseph at 530-8734.