The Mattituck Lions Club has decided to cancel its annual Strawberry Festival, which was to celebrate its 66th edition this Father’s Day Weekend (June 18 through June 21).

The Lions Club will, however, be putting together a drive-through strawberry concession tent June 20 and June 21 at the festival grounds on Route 48 in Mattituck. They’re also still planning to crown a Strawberry Queen.

“This is very disappointing to both us and all of our faithful attendees. However, due to the global pandemic and the following of state and county policies to reduce events with crowds, we know this is the best action to protect the health of our attendees, sponsors, vendors, amusement workers, entertainers, volunteers and everyone else involved in making the festival a success,” said the Lions Club in a May 3 Facebook post.

“In order to uphold some of the annual traditions, we are planning on having a drive-through concession tent on the Saturday and Sunday of festival weekend for sales of fresh local strawberries, strawberry shortcake and strawberry daiquiris. Please watch for times as the date gets closer.”

The Lions Club is hoping to be able to stream the crowning of the Strawberry Queen on Facebook live.

The festival dates back to just three years after the club’s founding, and was first held on June 16, 1955, after three charter members of the club decided to emulate the Plant City Strawberry Festival in Florida, which they visited in April of 1954.

“For a total of six hours Ed Buchak, the first Strawberry Festival Chairman and fellow club members entertained about 1,000 guests,” according to the Festival’s history page. “Lions and their friends and families served food and beverages, which of course included local fresh strawberries and Strawberry Shortcake. Thanks to the generosity of the community, the first Strawberry Festival recorded a net profit of $787.”

The festival has since donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to local non-profits throughout the North Fork community.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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