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Afton goes red for strawberries

Afton Apple was one of the vendors with fresh strawberries for sale. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia1 / 8
A chalk truck sat in Afton Town Square Park with a bucket of chalk for anttendees to use. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia2 / 8
Fresh strawberries available at Memorial Lutheran Church for purchase. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia3 / 8
Participants in the strawberry shortcake eating contest. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia4 / 8
Kids Art Tent presented by Girl Scouts was just one of the many kid-friendly activities at Afton Strawberry Festival. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia5 / 8
Peter Goldberg was the first person to finish his strawberry shortcake in the eating contest. Ashley Rezachek/Multimedia Journalism6 / 8
Kyle Koliha performs in the Bandshell on Saturday. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia7 / 8
Children play bingo at the Old School art show. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia8 / 8

Local artists, vendors and the public gathered for two days of fun, community, food and most importantly strawberries this past weekend.

The Afton Strawberry Festival celebrates the red fruit, which has been growing in the area since the 1800s. The packed event included about 100 vendors, live music and art. Some of the strawberry-infused foods included muffins, sundaes and donuts among many other items. The top selling item was fresh strawberries by Afton Apple. The festival, located at Afton Town Square Park and hosted by the Afton Area Business Association was held June 22-23.

"A lot of people come year after year to the Afton festival, so it has developed into a tradition for a lot of people," said event coordinator, Heather Kiel.

The free outdoor festival entertained guests with a desert bake-off and a strawberry shortcake eating contest. Each contest had cash prizes for the winners. Peter Goldberg of Minneapolis got first place in the strawberry shortcake eating contest and went home with $75.

Folk musician Kyle Koliha had the audience swaying on Saturday, and on Sunday, Colby Kent and the Stompin' Ground played in the bandshell. Raptor demonstrations, inflatable games and a make-and-take art presented by Girl Scouts were a few more family-friendly activities at the event. Children were encouraged to be creative at the festival and were provided with a variety of mediums including a chalkboard truck. The "minion mobile," which was stationed on the festival grounds, provided a canvas for kids to create chalk art.

Afton's Old School Art worked with the Afton Area Business Association (AABA) to bring their own fun activities to the festival including more live music and art. AABA also coordinated with the Memorial Lutheran Church, which was having its own strawberry festival at the same time.

"It definately brings people to town to spend money on the local businesses, and bring people to this side of the town to enjoy the scenery and all the parks," Kiel said.