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Strawberry Festival-goers dodge rain drops

by Darlene J. Taylor

STAFF WRITER

BUCKHANNON -- Strawberry Festival attendees and officials are hoping for clearer skies today for the final activities of the 62nd annual event in Buckhannon.

Scattered rain showers did not deter thousands from attending the Grand Feature Parade Saturday afternoon on "Strawberry Lane."

Joyce Harris-Thacker, secretary of the festival board, was happy with attendance and had high hopes for the evening's Main Street Hoe Down.

"We are pleased about the weather holding out. The evening music always brings in large crowds," said Harris-Thacker. "Highway 101 is the headliner. If needed, we will hold the hoe down in the Rockefeller Center at the college."

The parade featured numerous entries from throughout the country and Canada. Bands, dance troupes, clubs and ethnic groups provided diverse entertainment for the crowd of young and old.

Sharon and James Griffith of Weston have been attending the festival for 15-20 years. Sharon recalled that her mother used to make signs for the parade cars.

"I like the parade most of all, especially the floats," Sharon Griffith said.

Her husband added that it is amazing the distance some of the bands travel to participate, noting a Canadian flag.

Shana Heater of Lost Creek said there is always great food at the Strawberry Festival.

"It also has one of the largest parade line-ups in the state," said Heater. "I hope it doesn't rain," she added, as a light mist kept some under umbrellas.

Chelsie Dunlaby, 13, was holding Trinity Perrine, 19 months, so she could catch a glimpse of the colorful costumes in the parade.

Connie Hull shielded the light rain from her 17-week-old grandson, Spencer Logan Wykoff, who slept soundly through the musical extravaganza. She also brought her 2-year-old grandson, C.J. Wykoff.

"The festival brings business into the town," said Hull, who has been attending for 29 years. "You meet a lot of friendly people and the town gets into the spirit of the celebration."

Crafts of all kinds are always a hit at area festivals and this one was no exception.

Buckhannon's Brenda Allen was selling her original framed oil and acrylic paintings. Self-taught, she has been painting for 18 years.

"I remember riding my horse in the parade as a youngster," Allen said. "The festival has gotten so much bigger. The parade is better. There is more of everything."

Highlights of today's activities include a canoe race, horse pull, fun and action shoots, gospel sing and long range buffalo match.

Staff writer Darlene J. Taylor can be reached at 626-1403 or by e-mail at dtaylor@exponent-telegram.com.