Last updated: June 06. 2014 6:52PM - 3098 Views
By Melanie Yingst

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Ahh…it’s finally here.

For me, summer in Miami County officially starts this weekend with our beloved — and new and improved — Troy Strawberry Festival.

(If you want to know how I mark the end of summer in my mind — it’s the Troy vs. Piqua football game.)

In 2012, the Troy Strawberry Festival had to move downtown from the levee due to the Adams Street Bridge construction.

The Adams Street Bridge project turned out really well.

The turnout to the festival downtown was even better.

From what I’ve heard from locals, when the festival first started in the late 1970s (well before my time *cough cough*), downtown businesses weren’t too keen on hosting the festival on Main Street, which is why the levee was chosen to host the people.

Fast forward three decades, and boy, have times changed. The economy has changed. Our city and its businesses and organizations have all changed. Back then (and I use that term fairly loosely), downtown businesses didn’t have to compete with online vendors and big box stores. Restaurants didn’t have to compete with fast food windows and delivery services.

Thankfully, now, more than ever, the “buy local” movement is alive, which is especially apparent in the city of Troy.

We all know when you buy local, you support your neighbors, your friends and their families. The same goes for the festival and the funds that are being raised one strawberry at a time.

For one weekend of the year, we get to show off our beautiful historic downtown in a unique way.

The foot traffic will allow festival patrons from all over the region to cruise in and out of our unique store fronts in a way that is not possible the rest of the year.

With the move, festival folks can stillwalk over to the levee for the famous Troy Music Band Boosters strawberry doughnuts and Troy Senior Citizen’s shortcake while watching the kids play on the river bank.

I truly think it’s the best of both worlds.

No, there won’t be a parade like the ones we have had in the past. Here at the office, it was a thrill to see the lawn chairs being staked out well before midnight on Friday night for the best seat the parade had to offer.

But we’ll have other parades. Quite frankly, I think the Grand Holiday Illumination Parade in November has quickly become a new local favorite, especially now the Strawberry Festival parade has been modified.

In exchange for the changes, parking is going to be a bear. Yet, if we just stay calm and cruise to the festival site by Strawberry Shuttle service, you might see a few neighbors you haven’t seen in a while and meet people from out of town and hear what they think of our beautiful city.

For one weekend of the year, we’ll all have something in common to chat about: the festival, the food and the fellowship.

This year, there is an opportunity to start new traditions and still celebrate a few old ones.

This morning, I’ll be doing one of my own Troy Strawberry Festival traditions. Each year, I offer to pick up hundreds of strawberry doughnuts from the Troy Music Band Boosters’ pre-sale. I then deliver them to my best friend in a neighboring county. For a frugal gal like me, it’s absurd to write a check for more than $100 for dozens of doughnuts. But, it’s only one time a year.

When I see the look on her face, as well as her co-workers, they know exactly the reason for my visit. It’s Strawberry Festival time! I then get bombarded by questions about our festival. They all want to know where to park and what’s unique to this year’s festivities. In this particular county, they don’t have a city celebration that comes even close to Troy’s Strawberry Festival unless you count their county fair.

So while there is no longer a parade to enjoy, I truly believe this festival is doing the best it can to keep with the times. It’s about the hundreds of organizations, like Troy Music Boosters and Troy Senior Citizens, who depend on the money this amazing festival brings to the people they serve 365 days a year.

Because that is what the Troy Strawberry Festival has been, and will be, truly about — our local people — raising money one doughnut, one shortcake, one chocolate-covered strawberry at a time.

Have a wonderful weekend with a strawberry on top!

Melanie Yingst appears on Fridays in the Troy Daily News. The only way to enjoy a Miami East Cheerleader Booster’s grilled pork chop sandwich is with Troy Noon Optimist Strawberry BBQ sauce. Just trust her on this one.

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