Area residents looking to maintain the momentum of fun set by the Red Fern Festival the last weekend of April can do so May 13-14 with a 25-mile drive across the Illinois River and into Adair County.

Next weekend marks the 75th Diamond Jubilee Stilwell Strawberry Festival, and volunteers have been working diligently for a year to make it a success. Stilwell, which produces lush, sweet, dark-red berries, is considered by some the "Strawberry Capital of the World." And anyone who has compared the juicy local variety to the pithy, pale, giant berries from California can attest to that fact.

The Kiwanis Club has sponsored this popular event since time out of mind, and anyone who's interested in the history can pick up the May 11 copy of the Stilwell Democrat Journal, sister paper to TDP. It's the longest-running continuous festival in the state, always held the second weekend in May, and promises a great time for everyone.

There will be a parade, a crowning of the Strawberry Queen, berry judging and auction, live entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, and more. As of Monday, 193 vendors were signed up - the most ever. That means visitors will be able to enjoy a variety of cuisine and check out handmade merchandise and so much more. For the second year, guests will be treated to the Stilwell's Got Talent event on Friday night, which will showcase all the local entertainers and artisans. That starts at 6 p.m.

Leading up to a weekend of family fun, a carnival starts this week, and there will be a rodeo on Friday. The 5K Run for the Berries is also slated, followed by the parade, plus a car and motorcycle show, softball tournament, horseshoe throwing contest and more.

But the festival wouldn't exist without the famous berries, and growers will be on hand to compete for top prizes. Guests can also sample the wares, at $40 per flat, which is equal to 8 quarts. And they don't last long.

The Stilwell Kiwanis Club, and the friendly folks in Adair County, extend a warm welcome to all their friends, neighbors and relatives across the county line. Check it out - and while you're at it, enjoy the traditional bowl of ice cream with strawberries!

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