Every year on the first weekend in June, my dad would take my sister and me to the Strawberry Festival. This was in the ’70s, in the wilds of central New Jersey.
Well, technically it was suburban New Jersey, just up the hill from our house and down the road from the Dairy Queen. But there were still plenty of meadows and farms all around us in those days, and in early June that meant strawberries.
The festival was hosted by one of the local civic associations–I don’t remember which one–and it was held under a big tent in a parking lot on Rte. 518. We would stand in line with our plastic bowl and fork, with people we knew and didn’t know, and wait our turn to be served. It was assembly line service. First would come a slice of angel food cake–a generous wedge, as I remember–followed by a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The strawberries were the crowning glory–small and fragrant and red beyond red. They stained the cake and our fingers with their juice and made violent streaks in the pools of melting ice cream. We went home happy, with sticky hands and faces.