TROY — Matt Watkins took his idea for the 2017 Troy Strawberry Festival theme down the yellow-brick road of memory lane on Wednesday.
Watkins, this year’s festival chairman, unveiled the 2017 theme, “Silver Screen Berries,” at the Mayflower Arts Center with Troy Area Chamber of Commerce and Troy Strawberry Festival fans, family and festival supporters in attendance.
Watkins said the Troy Strawberry Festival has always been a family affair, sharing photos of himself, his brothers and his parents participating in the very first Troy Strawberry Festival in 1977.
“My family has been involved with volunteering for the Troy Strawberry Festival from the beginning,” Watkins said. “I’ve been doing this for a really long time, but I just didn’t know it. This has just been fun and it’s been fun for me from the very beginning. It’s been a family affair. When you are in it, you don’t really realize the depth of your involvement.”
Watkins included a photo of his dad, a Troy firefighter, sitting on the ledge of the Redman’s Club dunk tank at the very first festival in his presentation. His father, along with firefighters at Station One, also built a small handmade fire engine truck for the parade. Watkins shared the story of wearing replica firefighter suits to ride in the parade in his dad’s miniature fire truck.
Watkins also shared the symbolism of the theme’s logo with the stars representing his parents, in-laws and his children.
He also shared how all the area non-profits who participate in the Troy Strawberry Festival are writing their own story every day through the services and support they offer Miami County.
Watkins said, “Their good works shine like lights at a premier, and the stars are the volunteers that serve every day.”
Watkins said he hopes non-profits have a lot of fun rolling out the red carpet for festival-goers with this year’s theme. He said he also said he hopes attendees of the festival will take time to get to know the story of each non-profit who benefit from the weekend sales of strawberries and festival food and what the funds help do in the community well after the credits roll on for festival weekend.
Watkins, director of the Information Technology Department for Miami County, also introduced the 2019 Troy Strawberry Festival Chairman Bruce Adamson.
The 2017 Troy Strawberry Festival kicks-off in 99 days on June 3-4.
Pre-festival events include annual the Troy Strawberry Festival Golden Couple on May 6.
Applications are now available for the 2017 Troy Strawberry Festival Queen’s Pageant. The pageant is open to girls in grades 9-12 who attend school and reside in Miami County. A $1,200 scholarship will be awarded to the queen, an $800 scholarship to the first runner-up and a $600 scholarship to the second runner-up. All applications must be postmarked on or before April 4 or return it to the Troy Strawberry Festival Office, 405 SW Public Square, Suite 330, Troy, OH 45373.
The Troy Strawberry Festival recently was selected as Ohio Magazine’s Best Of: Readers’ Picks 2017’s “Best Food Festival” in a list released in its January edition. The festival also received a reader’s choice “Best Festival” from Dayton.com.
Last September, the Troy Strawberry Festival gained recognition for its special movie project, a 40th anniversary archive called “40 Years in 40 Minutes” featured at last year’s festival.
The film won the Silver Pinnacle Award from the International Festival and Events Association at Tucson, Ariz. The film was sponsored by the Troy Foundation and was shown at the Mayflower throughout the 2016 festival weekend.
For more information, visit www.gostrawberries.com.
Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews