Good Shepherd United Methodist Church will hold its fourth annual Strawberry Festival and Arts/Crafts Show on Saturday, March 9, on the church grounds in North Fort Myers.
The open-to-the-community event will feature live entertainment, more than 36 vendors selling a variety of crafts, a children's fun area with outdoor games and activities, a bake sale, burger and dogs, and, of course - lots of fresh strawberry shortcake.
"This is our fourth annual festival and it has gotten bigger with each year," said Audrey Martin, the event's director.
It's all for a good cause - proceeds will go toward the church's community/outreach programs. Those programs include aiding veterans and members of the Suncoast community, a holiday gift and food outreach, a reading program with and for students at Littleton Elementary School and more.
"The main purpose of this Festival is to bring together and build up the entire community," said Pastor Tom Willetts in a prepared statement.
The Arts/Crafts Bazaar will be held inside from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., while the outside Festival will run from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
More than 36 vendors will be selling arts and crafts, including original watercolors, jewelry, ceramics and other specialty items. There also will be a Bake Sale inside featuring homemade goodies.
Fresh strawberries and homemade angel food cake and biscuits will be available for sale, as well as hot dogs, hamburgers, soft drinks, ice cream and popcorn.
The church expects to sell about 450 strawberry short cakes, 350 hamburgers and 240 hot dogs, according to Martin.
"We are baking 500 biscuits on Thursday and cleaning 30 flats of strawberries." Martin said, adding that a church volunteer will drive to Plant City and return with fresh-from-the-fields berries for the event.
For the children, there will be a bounce house, golf putting contest, ring toss and other outdoor games to enjoy at no charge. For the "older" kids, there will be classic cars and Hot Chili Rods on display. A new feature this year will be live animals from the Shell Factory for children of all ages to enjoy.
The church's regular membership is very active but is primarily older so they welcome families with children to turn out Saturday.
"We would love to have children," Martin said.
Meanwhile, live music will be featured throughout the day.
Starting at 10:30 a.m., two bands will entertain - "It Takes 2", which plays 40's music, and "The Entertainers", which plays music from the 50s and 60s. There will be tents outside to escape the sun, eat, and enjoy the bands, organizers said.
For those who didn't get their fill of shortcake or who would like to cap off the weekend with a Christian concert, on Sunday, March 10, the church will serve up strawberry shortcakes outside from 3 to 4 p.m. after which people may buy tickets to hear "The Crist Family" singers.
The tickets for this concert are $10 each and there is limited seating.
Doors for the concert will open at 4 p.m.
The Crist Family is considered to be one of the fastest-rising family groups in gospel music today, organizers said. Comprised of seven singers - four female and three male - you will be able to hear vocals in four, five and even six part harmonies. Forty years separate the youngest member to the oldest, so there is something for all ages.
"I'd love to have 250 people to see us for the Crist Family," Martin said. "They are from Tennessee and have world-renowned fame."
There will be free parking and everyone is welcome.
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church is at 2951 Trail Dairy Circle in North Fort Myers.
For more information, call the church at 543-2686.