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June 14, 2013

Saegertown gears up for 47th Strawberry Festival

LINESVILLE — Celebrating its 47th year, St. Bernadette’s Strawberry Festival is Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. at St. Bernadette’s Church in Saegertown.

In addition to its famous fresh strawberries, homemade cakes and ice cream social, the food menu includes an open pit, wood-fired, barbecued chicken dinner. There also will be pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs and Italian sausage sandwiches with peppers and onions. A children’s drum stick meal is also available.

Chicken dinners are $8 and pulled pork and Italian sausage sandwiches are $3.50. Those interested may eat in or take out any of the festival’s food.

Last year, organizers were able to “Raise the Roof” and finish the church roof before winter thanks to the proceeds of the 2012 festival. This year’s theme is “Pave the Way,” as the church needs to redo its rutted and worn parking lots before winter.

Adding to the day’s enjoyment is St. Bernadette’s famous Pastry Pantry. Homemade strawberry pies, fresh breads, cookies and jams will be available. A ticket auction, specialty theme baskets, small games of chance, and a grand prize raffle round out the day’s activities.

John Weber and John Weagraff serve as this year’s chairpersons, and Steve Sada heads the barbecue pit crew.

Who would have thought that when parishioner Helen Archacki had a bumper crop of strawberries back in 1966, the first strawberry ice cream social would have grown to a point where St. Bernadette’s has been able to use all the proceeds from each festival to fund the major improvements at the church. The festival brings the parish family together to share the day and to share their talents.

The festival is a parish tradition in not only its longevity but in the people who put it on. Parishioners still pick more than 100 quarts of berries and then wash, slice and sugar them. Organizers also serve non sugared berries and angel food cake for those watching their sugar intake.

Archacki still makes pies to sell at the Pastry Pantry and other founding members such as Fran Giewont make breads and jams. Fran Peters and Mary Consiglio have run the Pastry Pantry for more than 30 years. Sandy Sada’s sauce for the chicken will be used, and so will Mary McDonaugh’s recipe for her chocolate cake.

Archacki, who was 90 at last year’s festival, died this past year. But her cake and frosting recipes were given to the parish by the family because it’s such a tradition, organizers say.

The festival is a rain or shine event and takes place in the church’s social center on Renner Alley.

Organizers suggest the public “come grab takeout or eat in and then enjoy the festivities of the Thurston Classic on a full tummy.”

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