Troy, Ohio. Small-town Ohio. Home of the famous “Strawberry Festival.” My mother and father both graduated from Troy High School- the pride of the town. Red and grey. The marching band would mimic the Ohio State band-- spelling T-R-O-Y on the football field with solid pattern. We displayed deep loyalty for two things: the American flag and the Troy band. This is where I was born.
The Strawberry Festival lasts a full weekend. Actually, it is a year-round event- a silent obsession. High School beauties grow their hair out for the Strawberry queen contest, runners train and weld metal and wheels for the highly esteemed “Bed Races.” Fulton Farms plants and harvests millions and millions of plump, crimson strawberries. The life of Troy. My blood flows strawberry red. Jennifer and I used to watch the long, long parade from atop the Motor Mart. Her Dad worked there and my Dad had graduated with the auto parts store owner so we were the blessed children with the bird’s-eye view of the whole thing. Of course, we never scored any candy but it was a good trade-off for being the envy of all the children in Troy.
After the parade, we walked by the red-water fountain to the river levy where the festival was set and already running. Thousands of people lined the narrow levy. We always had to hold an adult’s hand so we didn’t get lost or separated or stolen. Mom had to see e-v-e-r-y s-i-n-g-l-e booth. The old ladies sold quilts and crocheted toilet paper covers. The old men sold tiny, bent wire trees and wooden cut-out puppets. Of course, you could find just about any kind of strawberry food. Strawberry donuts, strawberry shakes and pies, strawberry salsa and steak sandwiches. At the bottom of the levy was the entertainment. Dunking booths, square dancing, and karate class demonstrations. My Papaw was the grand marshal one year as an honor for finally attaining his GED in the last decade of life. I'll never forget the pride on his face. The smile and the wave to the crowd. The cheers as he rode past.
I haven't been back in years. I miss it. I guess I'm a bit homesick. The festival was such a large part of my life as a child. I'm 38 and this year the festival will celebrate 40 years running. It has grown up with me--now bringing in thousands of visitors from all over the country. Such a success.
I am also a success because of what I received from the memories of a small town in the heart of Ohio.
Honor your roots, your family, your flag, and your country. Visit every booth. Eat the donuts. Don't miss the parade. Never forget home.