It is here, this weekend, the fabulous Strawberry Festival right in the middle of "downtown" Strawberry on Highway 87 north of Payson.
Besides all things strawberry, there will be more than 60 art and craft booths, great food and wonderful music from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 12 and 13.
Strawberry shortcake, chocolate-dipped strawberries and strawberry sparkle are only a few of the fabulous food treats in store for you. There also will be the more usual fare of kettle corn, Indian fry bread, Italian sausage and meatball sandwiches, fajitas and lots more.
A great variety of cold drinks await you including fruit drinks, espresso coffee,no-cones, frosties, freezes, milkshakes, and lots of just plain water.
Take home a few jars of strawberry jam, strawberry butter and strawberry chutney for yourself and for gifts.
The restaurants in Strawberry also will have everything strawberry on their special menus.
The Strawberry Music Fest kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday featuring John Carpino. The Top Cats will perform from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Johnny Cash will be on stage at 10 a.m. Sunday and the Renegades will play from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Jamming will go on throughout both days between these performances. The stage will be set up beside the Windmill Corner Inn. Bring your instrument and join in. Some seating will be provided but if you have a chair in a bag, bring it.
There is no end to the variety of vendors showing their crafts -- from jewelry, clothing, wonderful wooden things, great smelling things, wooden flutes, pottery, portrait photography, copper yard ornaments, unusual hats, yard signs and much more.
There will be booths catering to children and to the young of heart including hands-on sand art, some amazing exotic animals including a parrot and kangaroo and the child-friendly goats and llamas. You must taste the goat fudge which is made right here in Strawberry.
When you are totally worn out, stop by for a therapeutic massage.
An information booth will be on the south end of Pine. There you will find answers to all your questions and maps showing all the shops, shuttle stops and events in both Pine and Strawberry.
Parking is very limited in Strawberry so shuttle busses will be available to bring you from Pine up to Strawberry. Two shuttle busses will be running continuously throughout both days. There are two shuttle stops in Pine: one is at the Sidewinder on the corner of Hardscrabble and Highway 87; the other is between Nifty Fifty and the museum at the Pine Community Center.
There also will be two shuttle stops in Strawberry. One will be in front of the Windmill Corner Inn and the other will be on Parkinson Road next to Strawberry Auto. These stops will be well marked. There will be a well-marked information table in Strawberry to answer any questions.
While waiting for the shuttle in Pine, stop by the Strawberry Patchers quilt show in the Cultural Hall at the Pine Community Center. The quilts are amazing. You will be able to buy raffle tickets for the Opportunity Quilt.
Besides the quilt show, all the shops, galleries and restaurants in Pine and Strawberry will be open featuring lots of everything strawberry and much more.
On Saturday, a shuttle will be available to take people to the Strawberry Schoolhouse, which is 1 1/2 miles up Fossil Creek Road. The schoolhouse is having a traveling tent show with everyone in period costumes and lots of other special activities.
Search and Rescue will be directing traffic and ensuring the safety of all who come to the Strawberry Festival. The paramedics will be on hand in case there is a need, and the Forest Service will have a special presentation about fire prevention.
The Strawberry Festival, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce. For more information log on to www.rimcountrychamber.com or www.inpayson.com.