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.