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Strawberry Swoon

By Jackie Johansen

Small golden seeds nestle themselves into flesh the color of ruby slippers. The seeds are like dimples that cause the skin to mound up around each one. When the fruit is bitten into, its sweet juices pop over the tongue—it tastes distinctly like lazy afternoons. The strawberry, in all its sensuous, summertime, sentimental glory, is given the attention it deserves this June 20 at the Guerneville's KGGV Strawberry Festival.

The strawberritastic extravaganza will take over the parking lot of the Guerneville Community Church. Barrels of strawberries will fill the space, and Fragaria ananassa–loving guests will be able to roam with a stick in hand and a plump fruit attached to the end that is just waiting to be poked into the fountain brimming with the strawberry's most perfect mate: chocolate.

If the sun shines with too much warmth, there will be fresh strawberry water to quench dehydrated guests. Others, more aggressive, will be able to put their hands around wet sponges that can be thrown at the anxious DJs of KGGV-LP, the Lower Russian River's public radio station. Free strawberry-themed activities will keep the kids busy under the Strawberry Small Top, and the silent auction allows adults to bid on items while keeping their mouths full of strawberry treats.

The festival offers the opportunity for all should-be-recognized-and- shared-with-the-world strawberry dessert recipes to take center stage. Everyone is encouraged to participate in a dessert contest by bringing 20 servings of delectable strawberry delights to the event by 11am. After the judges taste the entries and announce the winners, all the desserts will be up for sale, so all will have the chance to satiate their salivating mouths with strawberry goodness.

If all this is not enough, there will also be royalty present—the Strawberry Queen, who is elected by festival-goers. All the while the summertime air will be filled with the musical notes of Boogie Woogie Queen Wendy Dewitt, the Fargo Brothers, the Passions and others.

The strawberry, with its rough but tempting flesh, invites memories of long summer days and mom's homemade strawberry jam. Stomachs growl at the thought of ripe sliced strawberries that have been marinated in sugar, piled over warm shortcake and covered with a leaning pile of whipped cream. Indulge, strawberries are waiting.

The Strawberry Festival grows into action on Saturday, June 20, at the Guerneville Community Church. 14520 Armstrong Woods Road, Guerneville. 11am–5pm. Free. 707.869.2514.

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