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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Monett's Strawberry Fest draws crowds downtown

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mark Chapman performed for the Friday evening crowd at the Strawberry Festival. [Photo by Shaun Bennett]
Monett's Strawberry Festival has been a major success. The two-day event on Friday and Saturday drew large crowds to downtown Monett to celebrate the area's agricultural heritage in a new way.

Thirty-six vendors filled Broadway between Fourth and Fifth streets on Friday. The number grew to 58 on Saturday. Donna Hammond, co-chairperson for the festival with Shaun Bennett, said cancellations were quickly filled by others interested in participating.

"By 6:30 p.m. on Friday, we had 300 people on the street," Hammond said. "We had at least double that by concert time."

Bennett estimated that at least 1,500 attended over both days of the festival.

Mark Chapman headlined the first night entertainment. Vendors stayed open well into the concert. According to reports from the vendors, sales continued steadily, especially for the food vendors.

On Saturday, the festival was underway by 8 a.m. Hammond said the Monett Farmer's Market brought six booths up to Broadway from their usual location on Front Street and had brisk sales. Produce vendors left as the day progressed due to the unusual heat of the day wilting their products.

Many of the vendors made an effort to hold to the strawberry theme. Josh Dunn with Dunn's Doggy Delicacies brought strawberry flavored dog biscuits. Strawberry crocheted potholders and strawberry jewelry pendants were some of the specialties available that organizers hoped would be present to highlight Monett's days as a strawberry growing and marketing center.

"The homemade strawberry ice cream from the Monett Lions Club was a major hit," Hammond said. "KraZice, a vendor from Branson who sold frozen desserts from a cart," was thrilled with how busy he was."

The Lions sold out of 150 quarts of their homemade ice cream by 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Among the major attractions was the "petite" strawberry king and queen contest on Saturday. In addition to strong advance registration, a number of additional contestants showed up for the event, dressed to fit the theme.

"They were really cute," Hammond said.

The festival's car show was boosted by participation from the Corvette Club of Springfield and Nixa. One car came in from as far away as St. Joseph.

The heat affected attendance during the afternoon. The Bootkickers had a smaller crowd for their mid-afternoon demonstration. Crowds picked up for the bluegrass bands playing in the evening. The Timberline Bluegrass Band closed the event with a strong performance, Hammond said.

Several fundraising activities to aid tornado victims in Joplin found a responsive audience. For Pets Sake donated proceeds from the sale of sliders and swirled potatoes. Two Monett students who placed cannisters in local businesses, had raised around $100 a day prior to the festival. On the first day of the event, their efforts brought in more than $600. By the end of the festival they had generated more than $1,000 and were acknowledged by festival organizers.

"I've never seen that many people on the street. It was exciting to see," Hammond said. "Our security people, headed by Officer Jay Jastal, did an excellent job. Overall we were thrilled. Everyone had a good time."

The festival committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Denali Dreams, 316 E. Broadway, to discuss the event. Input from vendors and other participants are welcome. Hammond said a number of areas needing fine tuning will be looked at in the coming months to make next year's event better.

Festival contest winners

Art Show

Adult Amateur:

First: Gunnar Pryor

Second: Courtney Nuemeier

Third: John Baty

Honorable mention: Gunnar Pryor

Adult Pro Art Show:

First: Sherry Pettey

Second: D.J. Bates

Third: Sherry Petty

Honorable mention: Kay Stephens

Baking, Food Contest

First: Carolyn Stellwagen's chocolate strawberry celebration cake.

Second: Cindy Stephens' strawberry Romaine salad

Third: Carolyn Stellwagen's "Wave Your Flag" cheesecake.

Honorable mention: Lucille Stoll's peanut butter pie and

Cathy and Taylor Long's chocolate and strawberry dream cupcakes.

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