“We all come from different backgrounds — some of us are Norwalk natives, some are transplants,” said Jaycees treasurer Kaylyn Talkington about the committee putting the event together. “I think what we all kind of want, no matter what our background (is), is to put on an event that is welcoming and friendly and fun for everyone.”
The May 26 through 29 event will include “something for everyone, no matter how old of a kid you are,” said Jaycee president Erin Smetzer.
That includes live entertainment like plenty of local bands, a 5K, classic car show, blood drive, bar crawl, comedic hypnotist, caricature, a Berry Cute Baby contest and pie-eating contest, fingerprinting by the sheriff’s office, balloon twister, a Norwalk High School talent show, roaming magician, dance and DJ event, princess and superhero meet and greets, a war plane flyover, Back to the Wild animal show and more.
Downtown Norwalk is planned to have many local artists, vendors and food trucks lining the sidewalks, along with a Kids Zone and V.I.T. (Very Important Teen area set up throughout the entire festival.
“It’s shaping up to be a pretty jam-packed weekend,” Shelley Metro, community outreach vice president said. “I think that's a good thing.”
“We want something for everybody and multiple somethings for everyone,” Talkington agreed.
The organization said the Strawberry Fest started around the late 60s or early 70s and took a hiatus before running again from about 1997 to 2004. Smetzer said it’s a “nostalgic” event for a lot of people from that generation that “remembers going every year during their middle school or high school years.”
She said she hopes to bring that joy and nostalgia back.
“Our main focus has been bringing families and kids into Norwalk,” membership director Steve Beck said. “The last couple memorial weekends it seems like everyone likes to scoot out of town. We want people staying in town and to bring others into Norwalk. Maybe not for the whole weekend, but to enjoy it for at least one of the days.”
With that comes the responsibility of ensuring the event’s legacy for years to come.
“We’ve been putting in a lot of hard work and time to make sure it’s a success and becomes a new tradition,” secretary Rachel Nourse said.
“Sustainability has been in our minds because it’s been here and not here,” Talkington added. “We want it to stay.”
Anyone interested in getting more information, joining one of the activities or becoming a vendor for the Strawberry Festival can visit the Norwalk Jaycees Facebook page, website www.norwalkjaycees.com or email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.