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Craft show, homerun derby additions to this year's Strawberry Fest

This June's Strawberry Fest will mark the event's 25th year -- but while a focus of the 2009 get-together will be the past quarter-century of fun, it's something new that the festival's planning committee president said he believes will help the celebration continue to grow.

After a lengthy two-year process, Strawberry Fest last year achieved legal nonprofit status, paving the way, Strawberry Fest Committee president Justin Olsen says, to opportunities for even more support from area businesses as the event expands.

Because of the nonprofit status, "a lot more people -- in terms of our business partners -- a lot of people in the past (who have been) unable to help us are more able to help us," said Olsen, a Cottage Grove City Council member.

Olsen said many corporations and smaller businesses have rules in place restricting donations to nonprofit events and charities. So, he says, the switch should help Strawberry Fest in that regard.

But even as the economy has taken a nosedive, financial support for the event hasn't, he said.

"We anticipated it might be more challenging," Olsen said, "but we've been pleasantly surprised."

Much about the 2009 Strawberry Fest will be familiar: same parade route from the corner of 80th Street and Jamaica Avenue to Kingston Park; the same growing list of fair food favorites like cheese curds and walking tacos; the same popular pet show and kids tractor pull.

But in the works, too, are a slew of new features. Olsen said a co-ed softball tournament, three-on-three basketball tournament, softball homerun derby and figure skating exhibition are planned.

Strawberry Fest will also take advantage of the dry floor under the new ice sheet at the Cottage Grove Ice Arena, by holding a craft show Saturday and Sunday.

In recent years "the fest has been growing; we've had heavy turnout," Olsen said. "I think people see the value in it."

Value as a community-building event, he said, and -- with more bad economic news hitting Cottage Grove families every day -- as a low-cost alternative for family fun.

"It's an affordable, fun-filled event," Olsen said.

The 2009 Strawberry Fest will be held June 19, 20 and 21 at various locations.

Strawberry Fest's 25th anniversary

Cottage Grove will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Strawberry Fest this year.

Organizers are still looking for a theme and a logo to highlight the anniversary event.

Have an idea? It must be submitted to the committee by Saturday, Feb. 21. The winner will be invited to serve as grand marshal for the Strawberry Festival parade Saturday, June 20.

Entries can be submitted electronically at, or via mail to "Strawberry Fest 2009" at P.O. Box 512 in Cottage Grove, MN 55016.