ARTHUR — Visitors flocked to Arthur’s Strawberry Jam festival on Saturday for a day filled with food, fun, and local flavor.
“We weren't doing any of this last year,” said Holly Golecki, who was visiting the fair with her family. “So it's really nice to ... feel more comfortable going out and things are happening, because we're new to the area. Getting to know the Illinois flavor is what we want to be out doing.”
“We come by here every year,” said visitor Robin Bennett of Mattoon. “We go to the Otto Center, buy some strawberries, then walk around. Then we look to see if there is anything we can’t live without.”
The fair filled the streets with vendors selling food, merchandise, and promoting organizations.
One organization attending was the Arthur Beekeepers, who were selling beeswax and honey, with funds used to keep the organization running.
Several sold strawberry pies and other pastries at the festival to raise money for missions in Haiti. This fundraiser, which has become a beloved practice over the years in Arthur, has prompted other vendors to support this mission, too. Julie Yoder with Heartland Deli and Delights, for instance, tries to wait to bring out all of her product so the charity does not need to compete.
People are also reading…
Yoder, who sold strawberries and other fresh produce and foods, says the festival is important for the local economy.
“This one is not as well attended as the cheese festival, but it's still first in the beginning of the summer as far as festivals, and it’s still very important for us (business owners) to have people come,” Yoder said. “I think this year we're seeing a bigger crowd ... people are ready to get out and about. So it's been busy.”
The rush of people signaled something more to several attendees: a return to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve just tried to come out and enjoy it, enjoy the good foods, kind of like fair food, you know,” Sandy Snyder said as she relaxed on a chair in the shade. “And then just support some of the businesses that’ve been struggling. So, I came back to eat lunch, and just people-watch and enjoy that homemade ice cream.”