MCCONNELLSBURG >> Summer's first berry will be celebrated for the 25th year at the annual Strawberry Festival June 12 and 13 in McConnellsburg.
The featured event is a Saturday evening concert by country-western recording artist Michael Eston, a hometown boy coming back home.
Activities are scheduled to get underway at 10 a.m. both days in McConnell Park off West Market Street.
Lots of luscious strawberry treats will be for sale at the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce booth, including strawberry pies, shortcake, waffles ice cream and even whole berries for sale. Savor the flavor on the spot, or order to-go containers if you've got the willpower to wait!
Other mealtime and snack food items will be available by a number of vendors. New this year is freshly-made pizza from the Pizza Truck, and hoagies to order.
The original festival started as a high school band concert in the 1950s and 25 years ago it blossomed into the weekend festival honoring the slurpy fruit that spells "summer."
Throughout the festival, parents are encouraged to enter cute photos into the photo contest for babies and toddlers. Entries will be accepted up until noon Saturday, but the earlier you enter, the greater your chance to win public votes, at 25 cents each. The contest will end at 1 p.m. and awards will be given at 2.
Entries in the children's strawberry coloring contest will be displayed. The contest took place while school was still in session, and winners' artwork will be acknowledged during the festival.
Friday evening will feature a concert by Mercersburg Community Band, which has many members from the Fulton County area.
During the noontime lunch hour on Friday, Jan Fraker's popular group "Old Friends" will provide musical entertainment.
Saturday will begin with the 5K Strawberry Stampede Run/Walk, beginning at the courthouse square. The fourth annual run is coordinated by Fulton County Medical Center, and proceeds benefit the center's health and wellness effort to combat childhood obesity. In addition to the three-mile race beginning at 9 a.m., there will be a youth fun run (called the Jam Race, 8:30 a.m.) and a newly-added one-mile fitness walk. Participants are encouraged to bring their canine friends along for the run or walk as part of the Pooch Run.
There's still time to register at www.fcmcpa.org.
The festival will conclude with a 7 p.m. performance by Michael Eston in the outdoor bandshell. In March, Eston was named "Best New Country Artist of the Year" by New Music Weekly, a national trade magazine for the radio and music industries.
The country music artist began singing in the church choir at age five, then joined the chorus in elementary school, performing right up through high school. In college, Eston bought his first guitar and taught himself to play by ear and was soon playing to crowds at local bars. A chance encounter at a trade show with the former lead guitar player for Iggy Pop and David Bowie gave Eston the break his music needed. Since then, Eston has been busy writing, recording and entertaining audiences.
Local Eston fans will be glad to learn that the country singer is returning to his roots and settling back in McConnellsburg.
"I wanted to get back to my hometown to be closer to my family. I have two little nephews now and want to be a part of their lives," said Eston, who is currently putting together a full band and is looking forward to playing locally.