The Mission of the Ashland Strawberry Faire; Since 1982

The purpose of the Faire is to produce an event that brings the community together and gives various civic clubs, churches and organizations a chance to participate and raise funds. We have booths representing arts and crafts, civic organizations, public service, antiques, and businesses. There has been continuous live entertainment on stages. All of the entertainment is generously volunteered by various musical, dance and demonstration groups in the community. We have an area of activities especially for children run by big “kids” of the community who volunteer their time. And, our Little Miss and Mister Strawberries have grown up before our eyes.

The Faire serves multiple roles of providing a vehicle by which the non-profits in the area can participate in a fund-raising event, small profits of the faire going back into the community through scholarships and donations to community services, and most importantly, it brings the community together for a day of fun and renewed interest in everything Ashland and Hanover has to offer (including strawberries, of course!).

  • Community – Provide a healthy family event, bringing our community together with renewed interest in everything Ashland and Hanover has to offer, including strawberries!
  • Scholarships – Since 1982 ASF has given over $50,000 in scholarships to the Hanover schools
  • Non-Profit – Since 1982 ASF has provided over $50,000 in grants and in-kind gifts to local non-profits; including free booth space.  ALL food vendors sponsor and share profits with a non-profit
  • Visual Arts – 200-250 vendors per year
  • Performing Arts – 1-3 stages with continuous entertainment of a variety of music, dance, and demonstration groups providing them with experience, exposure, and civic service
  • Kid Zone – A chance for kids of all ages to play (cake-walks, bouncy toys, and raffles), an opportunity of community service hours, and make memories
  • Pageant – Miss and Mister Strawberry playing on stage, chosen from a drawing

Arts and Craft Vendors – Exposure and/or sales, promotion of arts

Non-Profit Booths – Free booth for exposure; plus booths for fundraising and/or sales (small administrative fee)

Food Vendors – All with non-profit groups, feeding the 30-40,000 visitors

Businesses Vendors – in Ashland Alley and the Hanover Home Show advertising and/or sales

The Faire serves multiple roles of providing a vehicle by which the non-profits in the area can participate in a fund-raising event, small profits of the Faire going back into the community through scholarships and donations to community services, and most importantly, it brings the community together for a day of fun and renewed interest in everything Ashland and Hanover has to offer (including strawberries, of course!).


The History of the Faire

It was the spring of 1981 when Ken Gustafson of the Ashland Berry Farm approached the late Dick Gillis and Tafi Yourtee with the idea for a Strawberry Festival. They gathered a scouting party and flew out to Ohio to see how a festival was organized. They returned to Ashland to bring something similar here. Throughout the rest of the year, the planning of the first Strawberry Faire began. Among the members of that first committee were Chairman Dick Gillis, Tafi Yourtee, Ken Gustafson, John Longmire, Norman Bugge and Linda Alford, just to name a few. These volunteers spent hundreds of hours of their time to bring to Ashland a traditional celebration to promote the community and feature the strawberry harvest. Those first few years, the committee went out and picked the berries and processed them for strawberry shortcakes to be sold the day of the Faire.

In the spring of 1982, the committee held a dance, “Dancing Under the Stars”, featuring Ron Moody and the Centaurs. It was held at Randolph-Macon College’s old gymnasium and provided not only a 1950s star-studded even for all who attended; it raised the initial start-up funds for the first Faire in May. The first Faire was held on the football field at Randolph-Macon College. In 1988 it was moved to the historic campus under the trees and then in the 2000’s moved to the streets surrounding the campus. With each move, the Faire became bigger and better.