Since its start 53 years ago, Saanich’s Strawberry Festival remains a local and regional favourite.
The festival returns Sunday, with its signature combination of cheap and tasty treats and family activities.
Past incarnations of the event have drawn thousands to Elk Lake Park. While crowds can be difficult to estimate, the event draws about 8,000 each year, and even more some years.
Given such figures, the event is not without its logistical challenges. They include long lines and parking issues. But organizers would rightfully note that these inconveniences are a small price to pay for its benefits. They include a generous helping of strawberries and ice cream for a price of 50 cents, a deal by any measure.
In years past, an army of volunteers wearing red T-shirts and aprons scooped out 4,000 individual servings, with members of Saanich council and other local dignitaries often lending a hand. Tickets for this treat will go on sale 11 a.m. until supplies last.
The festival itself started as a celebration of the Saanich’s agricultural roots, and has since involved into a multi-faceted event with a range of activities. They include musical acts, face-painting, arts and crafts, and inflatable games. Various organizations also use the occasion to reach out to the community.
Events start at 11 a.m. Organizer say they expect that the park’s main and lower level parking lots will most likely fill up by noon. The overflow grass parking area (just off Elk Lake Drive) will also be open, and two shuttle buses starting and ending at Saanich Commonwealth Place will run from noon to 4 p.m. with stops near the grass overflow parking area and the entrance to the upper level parking lot along the way.
“The Strawberry Festival is one of Saanich’s largest and most popular family events,” said Mayor Fred Haynes in a release. “We hope residents of all ages will join us for strawberries and ice cream and many other fun activities this Sunday.”