Ripe for berry festival
"When we all work together, good things happen," said Marlys Peterson as she participated in a strawberry work fest recently at Red Oak Grove Lutheran Church, rural Austin.
Women of Red Oak Grove plus one man cleaned 225 pounds of the red berries recently, in preparation for the 78th annual Red Oak Grove Strawberry Festival on Tuesday, June 11.
While about a dozen women and Galen Peterson cleaned the berries, other volunteers were in the kitchen blending them for strawberry shortcake.
The berries come from Hy-Vee in Austin.
Doris Draayer claimed to be the oldest of the strawberry workers at age 93. She has been cleaning strawberries for over 50 years of the festival. Her daughter Nancy Wesley worked in the kitchen pulverizing the berries.
"I love them but can't eat too many," remarked Draayer.
Everyone is welcome to attend the Red Oak event, says organizer Linda Christianson, one of many volunteers.
A noon luncheon will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Residents of area care centers and assisted living sites will be slotted into specified times of serving.
Christianson said residents from Prairie Manor Care Center and Heather Haus of Blooming Prairie will be at the special strawberry day as will senior living residents of the Cedars and Oaks in Austin. Sacred Heart Care Center and assisted living residents will also be enjoying the Church festival. St. Mark's Care Center and assisted living of Austin will also be represented at Red Oak Grove.
The serving line will be opened again from 4 to 7 p.m. On the menu will be pulled pork, hot dogs, beans and cole slaw. Of course, the dessert will be strawberries over shortcake or served with ice cream.
A bazaar and bake sale will also be held during the day with quilts made by the Red Oak Grove quilters being placed on sale.
A quilt raffle is planned once again. The quilt raffle brought in over $400 in funds last year.
Judy Wambeam handles the quilting projects as Mission Growth chair.
"I've been sewing since I was 8," said Wambeam, who was very active in 4-H. She said her grandmother was a quilter for many years.
Seventeen quilts are donated for the strawberry festival. Four of them go to Blooming Prairie High School seniors.
Picnic activities for kids are planned for outdoors, said Christianson.