Organizers of the London Strawberry Festival are hoping to be able to pay the bills after days of rain and chilly temperatures kept many prospective festival-goers at home.
About half of the typical crowd attended the festival, which was held this past Thursday through Saturday, according to Kevin Stockham, concession chairman.
“I’m hoping to pay the bills on it,” Stockham said. “That’s our goal this year.”
Rain fell on all three days of the festival, with weather so poor Friday evening that activities including the live musical entertainment and tractor pull had to be cancelled, he said.
High temperatures hovered in the upper 60s Saturday, with strong winds and overcast skies.
“As soon as the sun would pop out, it would go way,” he said. “It reminded you of a wet, chilly October Saturday, but unfortunately it was June.”
The festival’s annual budget is about $25,000, which includes expenses such as renting a stage and equipment, insurance and royalty trophies, among other items.
The area which took the biggest hit was the Strawberry Shortcake tent, he said. That tent is what typically pays for the royalty scholarships.
Stockham said of the seven years he has been serving as an organizer, this is the first time the event was rained out all three days.
Still, new community-oriented events such as the 5K walk/run, held Saturday morning, and the American Red Cross Bloodmobile were a success. About 100 individuals participated in the 5K.
Those wishing to donate can visit www.gofundme.com/LondonStrawberry.
London Cobra Show
Despite the rain, the Ohio Cobra Club’s (OCC) president deemed Saturday’s London Cobra Show a success.
“Considering the weather, everything was great,” said George Daulton, OCC president. “We had 122 cars come into London in the rain. That’s an incredible turnout for the rain we had.”
Initially, 190 cars registered.
The club was able to donate $110,000 to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Saturday evening. That donation puts the club over the $1 million mark. The club has been holding an event in London for 15 years, he said.
Because of the wet roads, Daulton said the club only offered car rides “at the speed limit” for about two hours Saturday. About 120 rides were given, compared to 500 last year. Typically, rides begin at 10 a.m.
“These cars with wet roads don’t go together very well at all,” he said. “At 11:30 a.m. it was starting to dry, and we decided we’d give people low speed rides. Safety is our main concern.”
When the rain picked up again shortly after noon, rides were called off once again.
This year’s raffle car was won by Joe Tomaric, 66, of Chardon, Ohio. The club sold 10,000 tickets.
“He was so choked up on the phone he couldn’t talk,” Daulton said. “After I told him he had won the car, there was a long silence. We were waiting to hear the thud when he hit the floor.”
The club is already looking forward to next year’s event.
“We’re so appreciative of the fact that we can do this in London,” Daulton said. “We’re thankful for the people of London.”
Andrea McKinney can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.