For more than 50 years ,the First Presbyterian Church of Cranbury’s annual Strawberry Festival has provided residents the opportunity to help someone in need.
The proceeds raised from the festival go to the Deacons Benevolence Fund, which is an emergency fund for people in a crisis.
“The money goes to those who are in emergency need. We receive about one to two phone calls a month from people who need help,” said Ruth Jost, Deacon Moderator and organizer of the festival. “What I mean by that is people who are ill and need to pay a hospital bill or a doctor bill, or someone’s gas and heart were shut off. This is to help people get out of a bind and move forward.”
This tear’s festival will take place on June 1 at the church, which is located on 22 N. Main St.
“We will be serving strawberries, strawberry ice cream, pound cake or angel food cake. We will have a blue grass band and a brass band. People enjoy it so much and they preform inside Fellowship Hall at the church,” she said.
Jost orders most of the strawberries from California because there is not enough locally for the festival.
“There is a group of women who wash and slice the strawberries. The Cranbury Girl Scouts and Brownies also smash the strawberries for us,” she said. “The Boy Scouts come in and set the tables up inside Fellowship Hall. So when we say the community helps with this event they truly do.”
Jerry Yochelson is Cubmaster of the Cranbury Cub Scouts Pack 52, he said the cub scouts has been involved with the festival for about five years.
“There is a food concession we run and I like to make sure everyone involved knows we are here to help those who are in need of help. It is one of our basic rules in scouting. We are glad to be a part of event.”
Jost said the festival will be a day of fun organized to have children’s games throughout the day.
“We will have face painting, a petting zoo and pony rides,” she said.
Jost said the local Fire Department comes with a fire truck, the local First Aid Company comes in with an ambulance and the Cranbury Police Department brings a police car with them.
“This festival is a real community effort,” she said.
Jost said the festival gets a couple hundred people a year.
“My goal for this year is $4,000, but I would be grateful for anything. This funds will help tremendously someone in need. We sell advance tickets for $7 and for children ages 2-12 the tickets are $5. At the door the suggested donation is $8 for adults and $6 for children ages 2-12.,” she said.
The money raised is used for families and individuals in a crisis that are in Cranbury and the surrounding towns in the area.
“There is a Benevolence Committee they get the requests which are confidential and decided on whether they can help them or not.,” Jost said.
She said the outcome of this festival is always a beautiful outcome.
“Being able to help someone means so much to me. Putting this event together and what we do with the fund is very humbling. Just a wonderful feeling,” Jost said.
She said it takes two months to prepare for the festival.
“This event is a lot of fun and a lot of work. It just is amazing how much of a community effort is involved with this festival. I want people to enjoy the music, have a good time and know that they have helped somebody,” Jost.