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What’s happening:
Strawberries, rides, fireworks and the crowning of a new queen – Mattituck Lions Club Strawberry Festival preview

Caroline Keil of Mattituck is crowned the 2015 Strawberry Queen at last year's festival. File photo

Father’s Day weekend is coming up and on the North Fork, that means one thing: It’s Strawberry Festival time. Sorry, Dad.

As the local strawberry crop reaches its peak, the plump, juicy red berries bursting with flavor, the Mattituck Lions Club readies the fairgrounds for the big event, which kicks off tomorrow evening with hulling night and festival 2016_0522_strawberrypreview. The traditional hulling night is a special gathering of locals: Lions Club members, their families, friends and neighbors get together to prepare the berries for dipping in chocolate, slicing for shortcake and blending into delicious daiquiris.

The Mattituck Lions’ 62nd Annual Strawberry Festival — the biggest strawberry festival in the country — takes place Thursday through Sunday at Strawberry Field on County Road 48 in Mattituck. The perennial favorite offers something for everyone, from strawberry delicacies and other foods from around the world to more than 25 carnival rides and a large variety of midway games, live music, arts and crafts and fireworks on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

A highlight of the festival is the announcement and crowning of the Strawberry Festival Queen — a tradition dating back to 1956. A panel of judges has already selected the queen and her court at an event held a couple of weeks ago. The results of the pageant are top-secret until 3 p.m. Saturday, when the queen is announced and crowned at the festival.

The festival takes place rain or shine, but the weather forecast from Thursday through Sunday couldn’t be better. The National Weather Service says there will be clear skies and sunshine in Mattituck all weekend long, with highs in the 70s. Clear skies will prevail each evening, too — also perfect for the spectacular fireworks displays scheduled Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. (See schedule below for details.)

The Strawberry Festival, powered by Mattituck Lions Club volunteers and volunteers from the community, is the club’s biggest fundraiser, its proceeds helping to support dozens of local charitable organizations year-round.


Mattituck Strawberry Festival Schedule

Thursday June 16 – Hulling and Preview Night
Hulling starts at 5 p.m. (volunteers welcome)
Carnival- 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Free admission

Carnival Preview special pay-one-price ride bracelet: $20
Single Ride Tickets Available

“Lite” Fireworks show at 9:15 p.m. (weather permitting)

Friday June 17

5 p.m. to 11 p.m

Admission – adults and children 5 and over: $5
(Children under 5 free)
Pay-one-price ride bracelet: $30; single-ride tickets available.

Live music by Southbound 6:30-10 p.m.

Big fireworks show at 10 p.m. (weather permitting)
Saturday June 18
11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Admission – adults and children 5 and over: $5
(Children under 5 free)
Pay-one-price ride bracelet: $30
Two sessions/two bracelets: opening to 6 p.m. and 4 p.m. to closing
Double-session, all-day bracelet: $50
Single-ride tickets available

Live music by the Elderly Brothers, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

2016 Strawberry Queen announcement and presentation at 3 p.m.

Live music by The Nick Kerzner Band, 3:30-6:30 p.m.

Live music by Who Are Those Guys, 7-10 p.m.

“Grand Finale” fireworks show at 10:15 p.m. (weather permitting)
Sunday June 19
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission – adults and children 5 and over: $5
(Children under 5 free)

Pay-one-price ride bracelet: $30
Single-ride tickets available

Father’s Day special: Fathers admitted free when accompanied by a paid child

Live music by Eastbound Freight, 12 noon to 3 p.m.

2016 BIG BUCKS winners announced, 4 p.m.
No pets or backpacks are permitted on festival grounds.

The Strawberry Festival is an alcohol-free event.

Mega-Pass tickets may be purchased online here.

For more information about the 62nd Annual Strawberry Festival, visit the festival website.


Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.