The Mattituck Lions Club Strawberry Festival is the granddaddy of all berry fests, running for four days and drawing thousands to the rural farmland grounds of Mattituck each year. It's a full carnival experience with rides, games and live entertainment. A Strawberry Fair Queen is crowned.
On Thursday night, hundreds of residents come out to volunteer, hulling thousands of strawberries that will be used for the rest of the festival to make nonalcoholic daiquiris, shortcake, pies and chocolate-covered berries. Admission is free, with reduced-price rides on the midway as the festival gets underway and a short fireworks show, weather permitting.
The full festival begins Friday and continues through Sunday. While the fruit takes center stage all weekend, plenty of fair-minded food vendors sell all sorts of usual carnival foods, from sausage-and-peppers to gyros to ice cream.
Reithoffer Shows runs the carnival for the event, with the largest movable ferris wheel in the country. "They are much different than the ones you usually find at these things," says Phil Centonze, a past president of the Mattituck Lions Club, about the carnival operators. "They do state fairs."
Bands play throughout the carnival. Southbound, a country and classic rock band, headlines Friday night. Additional fireworks shows are planned for Friday and Saturday nights.
WHEN | WHERE June 16-19. 5-10 p.m. Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. 1175 Rte. 48, Mattituck
ADMISSION Thursday: Free ($20 ride bracelets); Friday: $5 ($30 ride bracelet); Saturday-Sunday: $5 ($30 ride bracelets). Free admission for children under 5. Free admission for dads with paid child admission on Sunday.
PARKING For those coming from the west, park at 660 Herricks Lane, Jamesport, where shuttle bus service runs continuously to the festival. According to Southold Police, festival-bound traffic from points west are encouraged to use off-site parking at Martha Clara Vineyards and Lions-provided transportation will be the fastest route to the festival.