It could have been corn.
That was the initial, short-lived idea for what would become Troy’s popular annual festival.
Phil Trentine, the 2001 festival chairman, told the Dayton Daily News that year that “It was in an early discussion period that someone asked, ‘How many ways can you fix corn?’ And everybody goes, Duhhh! And strawberries won out.”
Strawberries have continued to win out for more than four decades. The 42nd annual event will be held this weekend.
The first Troy Strawberry Festival, held in 1977, was organized to give clubs and organizations a way to make money. It was an immediate success despite the marble-sized berries that year.
Managers from local Friendly Ice Cream shops created a 100-foot long strawberry sundae inside Troy Stadium that year, and visitors purchased shortcakes, beverages and pints of “Troy’s finest” berries.
Many of the ideas still used today — the arts and crafts booths and the concession stands — have been part of the berry festival since those early years.
In 1980 the festival was given a theme, “A Family Affair,” starting a tradition in yearly themes that continues today.
“Go For The Berries,” “The Time Is Ripe,” “25 Berry Good Years,” and “Let’s Talk Berries,” are a sampling of the themes over the years. This year Eric Roetter, the general chairman of the event, chose “Strawberry Palooza.”
>> Daytonian of the Week: Eric Roetter, Troy Strawberry Festival chairman
This year’s June 2 and 3 festival will feature more than 100 craft booths and 70 food vendors. The festival still serves as the main fundraising activity for many local nonprofit groups and the only annual fundraiser for some.
Activities are held on the Great Miami River levee as well as on the downtown Public Square and adjoining streets.