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Organizers are already planning the 80th annual Middle Tennessee Strawberry Festival in Portland. FILE

Plans are underway to host the 80th annual Middle Tennessee Strawberry Festival May 7 and 8 with May 8, being designated as festival day.

Last year’s festival was cancelled due to the pandemic, but organizers are optimistic that the festival can be held this year. The Portland Chamber of Commerce has actively begun organizing the events for 2021 and are working closely with the City of Portland. The Friday night concert will feature Resurrection - A Journey Tribute, which will be followed by a firework display.

           

The festival began in the early 1940s to honor the importance of the strawberry industry to the area. Strawberries began being a profitable agricultural crop early in the 1900s and continued for many years as the leading crop in the area.

At one time as many as 30 railroad cars a day were filled with strawberries going to other states. While the number of acres producing strawberries has dwindled over the years, there are several local farmers still growing strawberries. The weather plays a major role in determining if strawberries will be available at the festival.

           

Applications for vendors are available on the Middle Tennessee Strawberry Festival website or by contacting Mark Harrison at 615-323-1121. Non-paid entertainer applications are available on the Portland Chamber of Commerce website.

           

While the festival is scheduled for two days in early May, some of the events associated with the festival begin earlier. A new event will be a Strawberry Quilt Show organized and sponsored by English Mountain Gifts. The event will be held April 30 and May 1 at Richland Park Gym located at 303 Portland Blvd.

Competition is open to everyone with competition divided into two groups featuring adults 17 years and older and youth 16 years and younger. The annual Strawberry Festival Golf tournament is scheduled for May 4 at Kenny Perry’s Country Creek Golf Course in Franklin, Ky.

On festival day, Kid Town USA will be located on Main Street where the children can enjoy the inflatables. The parade will begin at 4 p.m.

           

There are free parking lots in the downtown area but spaces fill up early. A free shuttle to the festival area from the Portland High School parking lot will run from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. There will be a handicap accessible bus. The shuttle will not run during the time frame for the parade.

           

Portland Chamber of Commerce Event Coordinator Kristen Daughtry said, “The festival is planned to kick off with the Strawberry Jam concert on the 7th followed by fireworks with the main festival day to continue on Saturday, May 8. We are continuing to monitor the pandemic and developments that are happening with that to see if plans may need to be adjusted. Updates will be available at www.MiddleTNStrawberryFestival.com or on the Middle TN Strawberry Festival Facebook page.”

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