Wilmington’s historic Quaker Hill neighborhood kicked off summer over the weekend with the 13th annual berry festival – a tradition that brings the small community together. The afternoon was filled with lots of sun, smiles, and delicious berries.
The festival is hosted by the Wilmington Friends Meeting at 4th and West Streets every first Sunday in June.
The event celebrates the community with a kid-friendly afternoon, filled with family-friendly musical performances from local artists, a bungee trampoline, moonbounce, face-painting, freshly squeezed lemonade and other local foods, and overall family fun.
Funded by the Wilmington Friends Meeting with other local support, the event is completely free with the exception of food and drinks.
“We have great sponsors in the community who continue to donate annually. One of our most faithful supporters has been the Kenny family of ShopRite supermarkets,” John Demsey, a festival organizer and Friends Meeting House member, said.
Sunday’s food menu included delicious and handmade options, such as pulled pork sandwiches, smoked turkey, and hamburgers. However, all attendees were encouraged to save room for the mouth-watering main event: Berry bowls!
Each bowl included a thick piece of shortcake, vanilla ice-cream, a mountain of deliciously ripe strawberries, and to top it off, whipped cream.
“My favorite part of the day has definitely been the berries and ice cream,” Harrison, a young Meeting House member said as he licked the final taste of ice cream from his spoon.
All of the strawberries at the event were bought fresh from Highland Orchard on Foulk Road in Wilmington.
In addition to the delicious food, the event hosted local Wilmington musicians and singers.
“We are particularly proud to have to hear Jea Street, Jr. play here this year. He is really amazing,” said Ellen Gay, a volunteer and Friends Meeting member, said. (TSD interviewed Street last year about his musical journey and release of his new album.)
The Wilmington Friends Meeting house was established in 1738 as a school and a place for worship. It has served as an important anchor in the Quaker Hill neighborhood for centuries. The current space provides for social events, meetings and other community events.
Ellen Gay has been a Meeting House member for 40 years and has been involved with the Strawberry Festival since its start in 2006. She said that while members of the Meeting House are committed to its preservation and continued enhancement, the group also felt that it was important to seek opportunities to connect the important landmark with residents in the community. “We had the idea for this festival as an effort to further bring the community together,” she said.
Gay runs the plant stand at the festival, which includes a variety of donated flowers and potted plants. “We usually sell a lot. It’s one of the few things that makes money at this event, but again this is not about making a profit,” she said.
All profits from Sunday’s event are put directly into the fund for next year’s festival.