Strawberry Festival starts today

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO Three-year-old Isabel Leight of Cutchogue concentrates her efforts on getting her share of strawberry shortcake during last year's festival.

The rides and civic spirit of the Mattituck Lions Club’s 54th annual Strawberry Festival begin tonight, June 16.

Starting at 5 p.m., volunteers are needed to hull strawberries at the Strawberry Fields fairgrounds just east of Cox Neck Lane on Route 48. The rides and midway sections of the fair will be open from 6:30 to 10 p.m., with ride bracelets available for $20 and single-ride tickets also available.

Friday, June 17, from 5 to 11 p.m. is the official opening night, with daiquiris, shortcake and dipped berries, an international food court and arts and crafts. Admission is $2 Friday, and ride bracelets are $25. There will be a performance by country rock band Southbound on the main stage from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. and fireworks at 9 p.m.

The festival continues Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with performances by Who Are Those Guys at 11 a.m., Liza Coppola at 4 p.m. and Dead Ahead at 6:30 p.m. The Strawberry Queen will be crowned at 3 p.m. Admission is $5 on both Saturday and Sunday.

The gates will be open Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with classic R&B band Souled Out on the main stage from noon to 4 p.m. The six winners of the “Big Bucks” raffle drawing will be announced at 4 p.m.

The proceeds from the fair benefit 30 local and regional charities, many of which provide services for the blind and for people with disabilities.

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