06/11/18 5:59am
06/11/2018 5:59 AM

How much strawberry shortcake can you eat in eight minutes?

There will be plenty of folks aiming to find out at the 64thannual Mattituck Lions Club Strawberry Festival this weekend. READ

06/12/16 10:00am
06/12/2016 10:00 AM

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Harry Jaquillard has eaten a lot of strawberry shortcake.

It’s his favorite food to consume during the annual Strawberry Festival, a family-friendly carnival and everything-strawberry charity event hosted by the Mattituck Lions Club each Father’s Day weekend.  READ

06/14/14 5:40pm
06/14/2014 5:40 PM
Last year's queen Leah  LaFreniere (left) with the new queen, Jasmine Clasing of Southold. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Last year’s queen Leah LaFreniere (left) with the new queen, Jasmine Clasing of Southold. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Southold teen Jasmine Clasing was crowned Strawberry Queen Saturday at the 60th annual Mattituck Lions Club’s Strawberry Festival.

Clasing, 17, takes over the crown from Leah LaFreniere.  (more…)

06/13/14 1:57pm
06/13/2014 1:57 PM
Gacin Timmers, 5, of East Islip at Thursday night's Strawberry Festival in Mattituck. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Gacin Timmers, 5, of East Islip at Thursday night’s Strawberry Festival in Mattituck. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Hulling night, an annual tradition of the Mattituck Lions Club’s Strawberry Festival, is held the first night of the four-day fair. The hulled berries are made into strawberry shortcake, daiquiris, pie and more.

The festivities kicked off Thursday night for the 60th annual festival. To see more photos, check out northforker.com.

06/15/13 4:28pm
06/15/2013 4:28 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER | This year’s Mattituck Strawberry Queen is Leah LaFreniere of Southold High School.

Saturday morning Leah LaFreniere was just another 16-year-old girl from the North Fork. But come the afternoon, she had her coronation.

Leah was crowned Mattituck Strawberry Queen at the Lions Club’s annual Strawberry Festival Saturday.

The Southold High School student was one of 17 teens who entered essays for this year’s competition. The five finalists then met with the judges last month at Vineyard Caterers in Aquebogue. The other finalists were:

• Jasmine Clasing, Southold High School

• Brittney Longley, Mattituck High School

• Rebecca Piraino, Mattituck High School

• Olivia Vayer, Mattituck High School

06/15/13 10:00am

There was no shortage of helping hands at the 59th annual Mattituck Lions Club Strawberry Festival hulling night on Thursday.

Friends and neighbors from across the North Fork descended on Strawberry Fields in Mattituck to help prepare the thousands of strawberries needed for the annual fair.

As music played and strawberry smoothies flowed, hundreds of crates of strawberries were deposited on tables set up beneath a tent and volunteers got busy hulling.

The festival continues until Sunday, June 16th.

06/15/13 8:00am

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Ripe strawberries at Patty’s Berries & Bunches in Mattituck.

Did you know that strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside?

Or that strawberries are a member of the rose family indigenous to every continent save Africa and Australia plus New Zealand? Or that if you took the more than one billion strawberries California produces each year and laid them side by side they’d circle the globe several times?

Are you wondering why in heaven’s name I’m prattling on about freakin’ strawberries?

That’s a good question, actually. But as Father’s Day draws nigh, that means it’s strawberry season, a special time for fruitophiles, meself included. Apples are awesome, grapes great and peaches, um, peachy, but none of those seasons are as highly anticipated or cherished as the one that gives us the red, red conical fruit of the Fragaria ananassa plant.

Sure, having strawberries available in the supermarket for most of the winter diminishes the excitement somewhat, like watching “Elf” or some other Christmas movie in August. And when I was a kid, Ma Kelly, born in Manhattan and raised in Yonkers, thought it great country fun to take us little ones out into the middle of nowhere to pick strawberries. To this day I wonder why we were punished so.

There we were, pale skinned and freckled, on our hands and knobby knees in the dirt, scrounging for tiny little berries because the farmer barked at us to stay clear of the rows with the enticing big, luscious, juicy berries.

My mother-in-law lived for strawberry season, punctuating every evening meal during those too-few June days with homemade strawberry shortcake. Over the years, the dinners shrank in size until one year meat and vegetables vanished completely and strawberry shortcake was the only item on the menu.

From what I’m told, no one objected — ever.

But nobody makes a bigger deal about strawberries than the Mattituck Lions Club, which this weekend will put on the 59th annual Strawberry Festival at the aptly named Strawberry Fields, um, field on the North Road. One of the highlights is the naming of a new strawberry queen.

I’m not a Lion, I don’t grow strawberries and I don’t reside in Mattituck, but my family is forever linked with that event.

Ten years ago, daughter Caitlin, then a very serious and studious high school junior, surprised me and the Mrs. by putting her name in contention for strawberry queen. Hey, why not? It’s not like the national beauty pageants that critics love to hate on as sexist, exploitive and demeaning to women. There’s no swimsuit competition and no one expects the contestants to pledge their lives with dubious sincerity to securing world peace. It’s just a fun, little retro North Fork event, a cousin to Riverhead’s equally popular Polish Town queen contest, a key component of the Polish Town Street Fair each August.

And wouldn’t you know it, Cait became a finalist! No, no, I don’t mean to sound surprised. It’s just that it was so out of character for a girl who, at age 9 or so, requested a Tarot card reading at a Renaissance Fair in Maryland and, when asked if she was interested in boys and clothes, deadpanned, “No, money and careers.” The card reader damn near keeled over.

But she donned a long white dress and attended the Lions Club dinner with the other finalists. The young ladies went from table to table introducing themselves to the people whose votes would determine the next queen. Later, each reached into a goldfish bowl and pulled out a question to be answered off the cuff.

When one young lady got “What’s your favorite cartoon character?” I thought this a cakewalk. Then Cait drew her question: “How would you describe a rainbow to a blind person?”

Hoo-boy. Yes, I’m biased (a newspaper editor?) but I think she acquitted herself well. Can’t say I actually heard her response over the sound of me nervously tapping my teaspoon against my front teeth.

Alas, she was not destined for strawberry royalty. Instead, the tiara went to some girl from Laurel. Oh well, she had fun and an interesting experience.

But wouldn’t you know it? Years later that girl from Laurel, Lindsay Lessard — whose mom, Diane, had been queen in 1978 — became family upon marrying our firstborn, Ryan Patrick Kelly.

Since both my kids are redheads and there are strawberry queen finalists and winners on both sides, it’s possible, if not probable, that any grandkids could be “gingers” and perhaps include a queen candidate.

We never did have a priest in the family, or a doctor, but I think Ma’s happy we’ve got at least one queen, and maybe more.

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06/04/13 4:30pm
06/04/2013 4:30 PM

CLAIRE LEADEN PHOTO | The nominees for this year’s Strawberry Queen are (from left) Jasmine Clasing, Rebecca Piraino, Brittney Longley, Leah LaFreniere and Olivia Vayer.

Wearing a fancy dress and schmoozing some judges isn’t all it takes to win the coveted title of the Mattituck Strawberry Queen, for this is not your average beauty pageant.

The five finalists for Queen all impressed the judges last Thursday at Vineyard Caterers in Aquebogue. Dressed to impress, the five girls answered a variety of questions from judges and the audience.

The five finalists are:

• Brittney Longley, Mattituck High School

Olivia Vayer, Mattituck High School

• Rebecca Piraino, Mattituck High School

• Leah LaFreniere, Southold High School

• Jasmine Clasing, Southold High School

The dinner is an opportunity for the girls to show the judges who they are.

“We want to know what they will stand for, what they believe in,” said Katherine Fritz, one of the three judges. “That’s an important part of our mission. We notice girls that are very personal and open up to talk about their life, their friends and family and their issues.”

Seventeen girls entered essays for this year’s competition. The winner is crowned June 15 at the Strawberry Festival.

To read more about each contestant and the selection process, pick up a copy of this week’s Suffolk Times.

[email protected]

06/17/12 5:00am

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Caitlin Penny of Mattituck was crowned the Strawberry Queen Saturday afternoon.

It’s your final chance to head down to Strawberry Fields in Mattituck for the 58th annual Strawberry Festival today.

Seventeen-year-old Caitlin Penny of Mattituck accepted the traditional crown, scepter and robe from outgoing Strawberry Queen, Kaitlyn Doorhy, at an afternoon ceremony yesterday.

Here are some photos for you to enjoy from the three-day event:

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