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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cedarburg Celebrates Strawberries

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From its modest beginnings a quarter-century ago as an event designed to promote a local winery's strawberry wine, the Cedarburg Strawberry Festival has grown into Cedarburg's largest festival, drawing 100,000 visitors annually. The festival, now in its 26th year, runs Saturday, June 25, and Sunday, June 26.

Though Cedarburg isn't particularly known for its agriculture, and the city's nearest strawberry farmers sold their land years ago, the festival offers its namesake fruit in abundance, selling thousands of quarts of strawberries supplied by the Mequon-based Schmit's Berry Farm. That's on top of the immeasurable amount of strawberries used in the confections offered by vendors and Cedarburg sweet shops: strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake, strawberry schaum torte, chocolate-covered strawberries, strawberry ice cream, strawberry slush and strawberry crepes. There will also be an outdoor all-you-can-eat strawberry pancake breakfast from 8-11 a.m. Sunday.

One of the festival's most unusual offerings has become one of its most popular: strawberry brats, a juicy sausage that's sweet but not overpoweringly so. The brats regularly sell out each year.

On top of being a prime showcase of the small businesses and historic stone buildings of Cedarburg's quaint downtown, the Strawberry Festival has also grown into a large fine arts event, hosting dozens of arts and crafts tents along Washington Avenue as part of arts fairs organized by the Cedarburg Cultural Center, the Ozaukee Art Center and Cedar Creek Settlement, as well as several arts competitions.

New to the festival this year is a Miller Lite “Mancave,” which in addition to drawings and giveaways will host the Milwaukee Bucks' Energee dancers and local sports celebrities, including Brewers great Jim Gantner, who will appear from 1-2 p.m. Saturday.