By Ainee Jeong
St. Michael’s Episcopal Church gives its congregation a reason to celebrate each week.
On June 15, the community celebrated its 36th annual Strawberry Festival, an event with neighbors, art, live music, face-painting and strawberry shortcake – lots of strawberry shortcake.
Outreach committee member Laurie Schoening said the event serves as the church’s biggest outreach fundraiser. Proceeds go to any of the Hamilton County organizations supported by the church, including Third Phase, Prevail, Promising Futures, Salvation Army, White River Christian Church’s Food Pantry or St. Michael’s own summer Vacation Bible School.
“We haven’t designated where the funds are going as far as which outreach project, but it’s going to outreach,” Nancy Allen, Strawberry Festival committee chairwoman, said.
The event marked Allen’s first year as chairwoman for the event as well as the festival’s return to the Downtown Square after two years at the Noblesville Boys & Girls Club. Allen believes that the temporary relocation for the past two festivals caused the turnout to go “down a little bit” then, but it had not drastically affected the event otherwise.
“I like it here better, but it wasn’t that much different,” third-time visitor Jaclyn Scialdone, 17, said.
Downtown is not the festival’s original location, however; it was initially held onsite at St. Michael’s, 444 S. Harbour Dr., Noblesville. The move occurred around 15 years ago and the Rev. Lee Schaefer believes it to have been positive for the church, “making [it]more part of the entire Noblesville community.”
As a facet of the Noblesville community, the Strawberry Festival has attracted new visitors and yearly attendees. Noblesville resident Linda Freeman first heard of the event by word of mouth.
“I’ve probably been here at least 12 years,” she said. “I look forward to it every year.”
Word of mouth even reached Carmel resident Darline Strammello, who has come to the festival with her family every year for the past five years.
“They’re some of our best fans, by the way,” vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist Seth Jenkins said of the Strammello family.
Along with percussionist Michael Beck, Jenkins is a member of local musical group The Tides, who were set to perform at the festival for the first half while fellow local musician Greg Anderson took the second.
“We’ve played this event for many years,” Jenkins said. “I’ve done [the Strawberry Festival], personally, since 2006, and I think Greg Anderson…he’s done it even longer than that.”
Live music has been a regular installment at the festival and so has the presence of the police and fire departments.
“They requested an officer and the fire department; I guess kind of for show-and-tell,” patrol officer Eric Newmark said. “I’m here for public relations. I was here a couple years ago on duty also.”
From familiar aspects to first-time features, the return of St. Michael’s Strawberry Festival – and its shortcake – to the Square may resemble the homecoming of an old friend.
“We just love the feel of the Square… so nice here, so much more intimate and friendly and warm,” Schaefer said. “It’s good to be back here.”
Nickel Plate Arts joined the Strawberry Festival with its first season of Umbrella Sales, a pop-up umbrella art sales program.
“We’re able to coordinate,” Nickel Plate Arts studio artist Michael Janosky said. “For us to be here when they’re returning to the Square, we both thought it’d be a good fit to help enhance their event.”