Following up on a recent story, Paula Shannon located a few news stories in the Nashville Tennessean describing Portland’s first Strawberry Festival.
In Mayor Elmer Hinton’s unique style of writing, he said, “’This Strawberry Capital” was as happy as a boy wearing his first pair of overalls today as the first Strawberry Festival got underway.’”
This article appeared in the Friday, May 24,1940 edition. It went on to describe all that was planned for that first festival including a spectacular firework display by the Portland Fire Department.
The end of May was finishing up the season as a damaging freeze in April had shortened the growing season. As so often happens rain was also a problem for the strawberries that year.
A picture that appeared in that same edition was taken of some of the Portland girls braving the rain and wearing their bathing suits to pick the strawberries and promote the festival.
The caption with the picture read: Strawberry Pickers at Portland – at least the feminine section donned bathing suits yesterday as showers greeted the opening day of the town’s first Strawberry Festival. L-R Mary Sue Dye, Helen Wright, Annie Ruth Link, Jeanette Moore and Annie Marie Enders.
Johnnie Freedle is a member of the Highland Rim Historical Society.