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Shirley festival making a comeback

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SHIRLEY — After a 15-year absence, the Strawberry Festival will return to Shirley this summer.

The Shirley Visionary Group announced Monday that the annual festival, which spanned nearly a decade in its prime, will rise again May 18.

“We were looking for something to kick off the group and get it working on something and also find ways to promote the town,” said group chair Andy Ebbert. “This is one of the ideas that came out of that.”

The visionary group was organized early in the year to explore and promote growth and awareness in town.

“We’ve had three full organizational meetings, and we’ve had 30 to 40 fresh people at each one,” Ebbert said.

Jerry Duke, president of the Shirley Historical Society, said the original Strawberry Festival simply died of natural causes.

“I think there was a lack of volunteers, a lack of interest and a lack of money,” Duke said.

News of the new incarnation, however, is now being shared regularly on Facebook, Ebbert said, and those who have heard about it are excited to have it back.

Organizers are planning a full day of entertainment with two groups already booked – The Kerr Family and Suburban East Band; children’s activities; a car show; and lots of strawberries in a variety of forms, Ebbert said.

Ebbert said the group is seeking a wide array of vendors and exhibitors for the event, everything from churches and Boy Scout troops to flea marketers, crafts sellers and business promotions. The 10-foot-square exhibition and vending booths will be priced at $25.

The festival will close Railroad Street from Meridian to Main streets from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the historical society is planning a grand reopening of the Depot Museum that morning, Duke said.

The museum’s reopening and dedication will culminate a two-year fundraising and restoration effort to repair unsafe conditions at the 120-year-old structure.

Duke said Tuesday workers have cleaned and scraped walls and woodwork inside the building and given it a fresh coat of primer. The newly poured concrete floor is also in the final curing stages, with installation of a new hardwood floor expected in the coming weeks.

Admission to the festival will be free, and organizers said they continue to work to add entertainment, activities and exhibitors.

Fliers and vendor applications will be available at Shirley Town Hall at 409 S. Main St., and the Shirley Hardware Store at 311 Main St. as of March 23.

Online, more information can be found on the town’s website at www.townofshirley.com and at the Shirley Historical Society’s page at www.shirleyindiana.com. More information also is available by calling (317) 294-5582.

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