Chocolate lovers lined up at Becky Queen’s booth for chocolate dipped strawberries at the on Saturday at — a tradition now its 21st year.
Queen, a Potomac resident, has fine-tuned her chocolate recipe for the festival for 20 years, but she said the most important ingredient is the type of strawberry.
“I use stemmed presentation berries. They cost more and are larger, quite ripe and ever-so delicious, but they must be eaten within 24 hours,” Queen said. “Lots of people want to take them home to save them for later in the week – but they won’t hold up, so I tell them to buy and eat them as quickly as possible.”
Chocolate strawberries were only one of the reasons people came out to the Strawberry Festival, which raised $20,000 for charities and organizations supported by Potomac United Methodist Church. Many shoppers were thrilled with the boutiques, home treasures, kid’s toys and games – and particularly the homemade strawberry shortcake, covered in homemade whipped cream.
“The best part of the festival is eating the strawberry shortcake,” said Masin Groves. “I love it!”
A line waited at 10 a.m. when the festival kicked off, but that was just the beginning of the more than 1,100 people who arrived throughout the day.
The co-chairs of this year’s Strawberry Festival were Renee Antosh and Kim Rehmann. They were assisted by members of the church and their families. Many of the volunteers have been working at the festival since it started 21 years ago. Judith DuBowy was one of the founders and she still makes all the whipped cream, cake and biscuits from scratch for the strawberry shortcake.
However, there’s more to the festival than just the strawberry desserts.
“The vendors this year were extra special,” Antosh said. “We had an outstanding variety of distinctive fashions, handbags, jewelry personalized gift items, hand-painted clothing, designer jeans, spandex shorts and much more. We had 26 vendors in all – and the vendor room was packed at all times with shoppers.”
Three large rooms of silent auction items were crowded with bidders. Some of the hot items included restaurant certificates, vacation homes, sports tickets, a cooking lesson with renowned chef Amy Riolo, Apes Rope course coupons and even a Barbie gift basket from the Toy Castle.
Rehmann said she was pleased with the number and variety.
“Everyone worked really hard to amass quality silent auction items,” she said. “We are so grateful to the merchants, restaurants and patrons who provided the wonderful auction items.”
Jane and John Pontius, Rockville residents, said they were excited to come back to another fun-filled festival.
“We have been coming to the PUMC strawberry festival for many years. We usually bid on restaurant certificates and jewelry in the silent auctions,” the couple said. “Every year the festival is bigger and better – we enjoy it more each year!”
The proceeds of the Strawberry Festival will benefit 20 local charities, including the Excel Institute, Child Savers, the Montgomery Avenue Women’s Shelter, Stepping Stones Shelter, Christ House, Wesley Theological Seminary and many more.
Did you buy some strawberries at the festival? Here are a -- whether you want to eat it, drink it or use it to pamper yourself!