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Strawberry Festival a hit in Swampscott

A crowd gathers on the lawn outside of Swampscott Town Hall for a concert following the parade for the annual Strawberry Festival. (Gayla Cawley)

SWAMPSCOTT — Last week’s rainout of the town’s annual Strawberry Festival may have been a mixed blessing, said town recreation director Danielle Strauss, because the new date turned out to be a beautiful day. 

“We probably had more people at the Strawberry Festival this year than in recent memory,” said Strauss.

Crowds were so large for Sunday’s festival and its accompanying parade that vendors sold out of strawberry shortcake, hamburgers and hot dogs, Strauss said.

The parade featured two new attractions. The town’s new Big Blue fire truck and a group of rescue miniature donkeys, which were brought by Board of Health chairwoman Marianne Speranza-Hartmann, made their way down Humphrey Street and past eager onlookers gathered on Monument Avenue, according to Strauss. 

However, the change in schedule was not without its difficulties. 

The band booked by the town couldn’t make it on Sunday and a time crunch led to a scramble to get new entertainment. Local musician Joe Savia was able to assemble a band dubbed Flipping Tables solely for the Strawberry Festival, said Strauss, who praised their performance, which kicked off the town’s Summer Concert Series. 

Lisa Terrien, a Lynn resident, said the music was her favorite part of the event, but added that the strawberry shortcake was delicious. She was taking in the day’s festivities with her husband, Mark, and their two young children, Matthew and Sarah. 

“It’s just a nice, beautiful day (and a) nice time with family,” Terrien said. 

James and Sarah Koch have been living in Swampscott for a few years, and said they like coming to the festival to get a community feel. Another plus this year was that their 6-year-old daughter, Eloise, was marching in the parade with the Girl Scouts. 

Not surprisingly, Eloise said her favorite part of the event was being in the parade. 

“It’s a great town event,” Sarah said. 

Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald said events like the Strawberry Festival are important to get people out of the house, bring them together and create a sense of community. 

“When people come together, they feel a sense of community — they truly connect,” Fitzgerald said. (It’s the) bedrock of good government. The more we do these things, the more healthy our neighborhoods and community will be.” 

Each year, the cost to put on the Strawberry Festival and all of the town’s other 4th of July festivities, which included last week’s fireworks celebration, is about $28,000. The town budgets $15,000 for the events and the rest of the funding comes from a golf tournament the recreation department runs annually, along with private donations, according to Strauss.

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