Yesterday was Strawberry Festival day here in Beacon, an annual event sponsored by the Beacon Sloop Club. We only had a short amount of free time but were determined to go. It was a gorgeous day here, and so, off we went.

The Strawberry Festival is an annual event sponsored by the  Beacon Sloop Club, a local activist organization that began in the late 1960s and has had as its focus the cleaning up and the revival of the Hudson River, which was filled with a variety of industrial pollutants. Legendary folk singer and songwriter Pete Seeger, who lives very close to Beacon, was one of the founders. The park itself where the festival is held is one result of the dedicated efforts of the Sloop Club, having been transformed from a waste site to a lovely waterfront park, with views such as this.

riverfront park view at dusk

The Strawberry Festival – in which volunteers lovingly prepare such treats as strawberry smoothies and orders of strawberry shortcakes from locally farmed ingredients – is an annual event featuring music, food, craft vendors and local non-profits sharing information about their cause, and the sales of the strawberry treats help fund the Sloop Club. The shortcakes are amazingly good.

Here are some images from the day, showing the festival in progress as we arrived.  After first stopping by the farmers’ market, which sets up each Sunday, we then made our way to the festival. As we entered the park, we spotted Pete Seeger performing some songs. What a treat to be in his presence! We stood for a bit and watched the performance. Eventually, we made our way to the tent to purchase our tickets for the shortcake. The long line also presented the opportunity to grab some lunch. I opted for some pad thai and a shrimp roll from the Sukhothai stand, and both items were delicious. Jolie opted for some deep-fried ravioli, and those were excellent, as well. But the true star of the day was our orders of strawberry shortcake – featuring a warm crumbly crust, moist, fresh strawberries and topped with a cool dollop of whipped cream to balance out the warm crust – a fantastic signature dish!

While waiting on the line and then while eating, we enjoyed the sounds of the musicians who were playing. The music was generally a variety of folk styles; I was particularly impressed with a bluegrassy banjo player who spoke and sang with an authentic southern drawl. I didn’t catch his name (or spot any signs giving the names of the performers), but he was really good. I hope that he enjoyed his day playing in Beacon.

It was also fun to run into a bunch of friends, many of whom are local activists. And it was inspirational to see the work of the various activist and environmental organizations on display. As we were leaving, I wound up both with a Clearwater button and an anti-fracking bumper sticker, as well some literature for an anti-fracking rally in march in Albany taking place next week. As someone who cares about the future of this planet, I support this cause and am leaning toward going. The Strawberry Festival is, after all, not simply about strawberries; rather, it is about the ability of all of us to have a healthy planet on which to grow all sorts of healthy foods.

But to end on an optimistic note, and again to go back to Pete Seeger, here is a reminder of what is possible.

entering the park Pete Pete (2) Pete close up sloop club strawberry tent tom with red ticket strawberry shortcake tom and cake jolie and cake volunteer tom and Jolie river

folk singers (2) folk singers banjo picker pete telling stories long line tom and jolie (2)

ban fracking