PONCHATOULA, La. (WVUE) - Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Louisiana strawberry industry has been hit hard, but the Ponchatoula community is stepping up this weekend to plan events to help local farms sell their products.
Every year, farmers in Southeast Louisiana rely on the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival to sell a majority of their seasonal berry crop. However, the community is going without the event, which was previously scheduled for this weekend, for the second year in a row.
Now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased community members are pitching in help farmers sell berries all over town. Downtown Revitalization Director Faith Allen said that the city is encouraging visitors to come and take in the scaled-back weekend. She also said that the city is fortunate that people can have something this weekend rather than nothing like last year when restrictions everywhere first began.
“Our downtown shops and restaurants are so hopeful now that events are making a comeback,” Allen said. “There are exciting things planned this weekend, and hopefully for months to come, that will be great for our downtown shops.”
One year ago, Trey Harris, who supplies strawberries for Rouses Markets, made the move to sell several of his competitors’ crops in an effort to keep the industry alive. On social media, Harris has advertised that he will again sell supply from other farms at his shop, Harris Seafood on West Pine Street in the city’s center, to support all local farms.
Festivities on Saturday kick-off as early as 6 a.m. with the Julian Dufreche Strawberry Day in the Park, located at the festival grounds at Memorial Park. There will be a chicken wing cook-off, bake-off, food, live music, and a strawberry auction at 2 p.m.
The Ponchatoula Rotary Club is planning to sell jambalaya lunches at Memorial Park all day long and the Country Market is holding a “Farmer’s Day” at their store by the alligator cage in the center of the city downtown.
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