By Mary Alys Cherry
Harris County residents are making final plans now for the 40th annual Pasadena Strawberry Festival Friday through Sunday May 17-19 with the big annual parade kicking off festivities Saturday, May 11.
The parade will start at 10 a.m. at the corner of Spencer and Shaver and continue one mile down Spencer to Burke, ending at the Memorial Stadium parking lot.
When the festival begins May 17 at 3 p.m. at the Pasadena Fairgrounds, it will feature a full schedule of entertainment, a barbecue cookoff, helicopter rides, mutton bustin,’ jugglers, wild west show, motorcycle stunt show, teen karaoke contest, duck races, racing pigs, plus lots of great entertainment on stage and the World Largest Strawberry Shortcake.
Festival hours are from 3 p.m. to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, rain or shine.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for seniors and children 5-11.
The festival is put on by San Jacinto Day Foundation to encourage and promote the observance of San Jacinto Day and produce one of the largest fund raising events in the state of Texas.
The festival dates back to 1974 when a small group of enthusiastic Pasadena citizens gathered in a tent on a football practice field for the opening of the Pasadena Historical Museum and celebrated San Jacinto Day with the very first Strawberry Festival.
Strawberries, famous for their size and sweetness, were the first big business in Pasadena. As many as 28 train carloads of strawberries a day left Pasadena loading sheds going as far north as Chicago and Kansas City. These strawberries not only brought premium prices, but also earned Pasadena the coveted title “Strawberry Capitol of the South.”
Today, with more than 500 volunteers, the Pasadena Strawberry Festival continues to celebrate Pasadena’s heritage on the 106-acre Pasadena Convention Center and Municipal Fairgrounds complex and attracts over 45,000 visitors.
Officials cautioned that some items will not be allowed at the festival — bicycles/glass bottles/beverages/coolers/scooters/skateboards/food /Frisbees/rollerblades/flyers/signs/weapons/pets and radios.
The festival goes on rain or shine, officials said. If weather forecast calls for rain, those attending should bring rain gear, umbrellas and mud boots. The festival will not refund or exchange tickets due to inclement weather. Some performances might be delayed or cancelled due to inclement weather.
To reach the fairgrounds from I-45, take Beltway 8 east, exit Genoa Red Bluff (last free exit) and turn right on Genoa Red Bluff. When Genoa Red Bluff runs into Red Bluff turn left, fairgrounds on your right.