ELLERBE — The second annual Strawberry Festival brought around 2,500 people to Richmond County’s third-largest municipality Saturday, according to organizers.
Mark Buckeridge, chairman of the Ellerbe Area Neighbors Association, said the attendance, estimated to be about the same as last year, was a little more difficult to gauge this year because the festival was more spread out.
Donna Rogers said the crowd fluctuated throughout the day, with some coming in the morning, some later in the day. Buckeridge added that some were showing up just for the entertainment.
“We’ve expanded into roads that we didn’t have before,” he said as the festival was winding down Saturday afternoon. “We closed Main Street for a car show that I think has turned out great.”
Two trucks from the Ellerbe Fire Department had U.S. 220 blocked from Sunset Avenue to Church Street with several antique and classic vehicles parked in the middle of the road as festivalgoers admired the autos.
Buckeridge said the group plans to expand next year to include more cars and even local tractors, which often roll down Main Street each November for the Farmers Day Parade.
This year there were more vendors than at the inaugural event who lined the sidewalks selling jewelry, crafts, clothes — and food.
Norton Farms served up free samples of beef, pork and chicken flavored with their signature seasonings, including Kickin’ Chicken and Rub Your Butt, which were for sale.
Several of the food vendors offered iced treats to help the crowd beat the heat.
All of the food vendors were required to serve up something strawberry related, even if it was just strawberry syrup to add to lemonade.
Buckeridge said a lot of the vendors from last year came back, which he said was “a pretty good barometer on where it’s going.”
A large tent behind the fire station allowed attendees to catch a slight respite from the sunny and hear music from Ray Charles Lindsey, The Trip Rogers Band, Long Gone Bluegrass and the Sand Band.
Buckeridge said the festival was “good for this town.”
“It’s not the government doing it, it’s a group of people that got together and decided we want to try to do something to enhance Ellerbe,” he said. “Since we’ve started … a lot of improvements in town are because people are rejuvenated.
“We’re lovin’ it.”