The North Fork of Long Island holds a very special place in my heart. It’s full of good ‘ole fashioned things to do and reminds me of a quieter, simpler way of living – one that I envy deeply. It also reminds me of when my husband and I were dating. Pre-kids, we had an abundance of time on our hands and spent many weekends driving out to the North Fork and visiting all of the wonderful farm stands, restaurants, B&Bs, and shops that are peppered throughout the towns.
Many of my husband’s relatives also live out there, and they love to tease us that we’re part of the tourist crowd – and it’s true. We are incredibly seasonal visitors and are guilty as charged; we’re definitely part of the mess of people that love clogging up the roads as each “picking season” rolls around. We do take rides in the wintertime, but our favorite times to go revolve around strawberries, apples, and pumpkins, but that’s just because our kids still dictate what we do, where we go and what we eat!
As their palettes and interest grow, our reasons for visiting the North Fork will diversify too, which sort of brings me back to the point of this post the strawberry festival Mattituck, run by the Mattituck Lion’s Club. This strawberry festival is held yearly and is one of my favorite weekends of the year. Why? Because it’s a day full of perfect Americana Family Fun and we go every single year – without fail.
Our day starts early because this is one of those days that enables us to combine family fun into my husband’s Ironman training. This means that my husband sets out for a 50-mile bike ride while I pack up the kids and our stuff, and drive out East to meet him a few hours later. We usually time it perfectly and he finishes up his ride just as I pull into the parking area. He may be a bit stinky when we arrive, but that’s why I make sure to pack some extra bottles of water for him to “bird bath” in.
(And to those of you who are saying, “What? He takes a “bird bath” in a parking lot? That’s soooo skeevy! Well, it probably is, but then you must not be married to an Ironman. If you were, you would just be nodding your head saying, “Yep, that sounds about right,” because sometimes, you just have to make do when trying to balance family and your husband’s training needs!)
By the time their father finishes his bath in the parking lot, the kids are usually bouncing off of the wall and I don’t blame them! Not only do they get to go to a festival full of rides and good food, but they also get to hang out with their cousins while they’re there.
They also know that if they behave, we’ll stop on the way home and spend an hour or so wading through some strawberry fields. (Oh, who am I kidding? I’m the one who wants to get lost in Strawberry Fields Forever. We stop regardless of how they’re behaving because there’s no way I’m passing by a field full of ripe berries and not stopping!)
Once we’re inside, the fun begins. We find our relatives, we buy some POP bracelets, and we go to town. Between rides and food, and more rides and more food, by the time the day ends, our bellies are full, our hearts are happy, and our bodies are grateful that we remembered to reapply sunscreen all day long. 🙂
So if you’re looking for something fun to do this weekend, make sure you check out Strawberry Festival Mattituck. It’s rain or shine and is usually held over Father’s Day weekend.
Here’s what else you need to know about Strawberry Festival Mattituck
Pros: lots of fantastic strawberry-themed food under the big white tent (don’t miss out on the chocolate covered berries or the shortcakes!); lots of tasty food-truck food (there’s always something new and fun to try); main stage attractions are fun; the Strawberry Queen contestants are adorable (my daughter thinks they’re princesses); not so big that your kids get too cranky, but big enough that you can get your money’s worth!
Cons: no shade (unless you’re under the big white tent); you really need to purchase a POP bracelet (or else you’ll go broke); no pick-your-own strawberries on site.
What to bring: your camera; lots of bottled water (it gets hot); hats and sunglasses (no shade); anti-bacterial hand cleanser and some extra t.p. (Note: You have easy access to your car, so we always pack a cooler. You can’t bring food in, but it’s always nice to have ice cold drinks and snacks for the ride home.)
Admission: Times and prices vary. For prices and times, visit the homepage and check out the green sidebar on the right.
Location: Mattituck, NY. Need directions?
P.S. I’m a Blood Donor, so here’s my PSA: At previous year’s events, The Mattituck Lions have partnered with Long Island Blood Services to sponsor a blood drive. The mobile blood collection unit is usually on the festival fairgrounds on Saturday from 10:30AM to 4:30PM. In the past, anyone who donated a pint of blood was entitled to either a dozen chocolate covered strawberries or a strawberry shortcake. Yum!