Changes in store for S.C. Strawberry Festival; Key deadlines approaching

Key deadlines approaching for vendors, pageant contestants

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comFebruary 12, 2013 

— Fresh off a second straight year as the top event of its kind statewide, South Carolina Strawberry Festival organizers are well into planning for this spring’s event.

Plans that – from better bands and vendors, to more business sponsors – become easier with each year’s bushel load of recognition.

“They really see the value in participating,” said Wink Rea, chairman of 2013 event.

A key deadline comes March 1 for vendors. Applications for the pageant are due Feb. 25 and poster contest entries must be in by March 8. Commercials will begin filming soon, and registration for musical acts and recipes are near opening.

“This is where we start to kick in full steam ahead,” said Joe Cronin, marketer of the festival.

Several changes are coming this year. A 5K run that set off during last year’s event will come under the festival umbrella of events this year. A course is being sought.

“We’re in the process of rebranding that right now,” Rea said.

The pageant will now be two pageants, including one for younger contestants. They’ll also move from Thursday night to the Saturday before full-stated festivities begin, on April 27. Moving the pageant allows for an expanded Pick-n-Flick on the Thursday, May 2.

“We got it as close to the weekend as we could,” Cronin said.

Last year, the strawberry field picking with a movie brought out at least 1,500 people for its first run, yielding more than 300 gallons of berries. This year, there will be more family activities and music in a “dramatically” expanded event, Rea said.

Last year also brought a gala which will return for 2013, but serve as a private volunteer, sponsor and partner appreciation event.

Unlike other events, attendance is “really not an issue” for the Strawberry Festival, Rea said. Last year’s haul of more than 55,000 people during the weekend event just about maxes out the number of people who can safely fit it Walter Y. Elisha Park.

“It’s all about making the event itself better for the people who are there,” Rea said.

This year’s main event will be held May 3-4 at the park, with the pageants April 27, golf tournament May 1 and Pick-n-Flick May 2. For more information, go to scstrawberryfestival.com.

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