The strawberry will once again reign supreme in Wallace. The town is preparing for the 2017 Carolina Strawberry Festival, being held May 12-13, the seventh consecutive event in recent years.
Known in the 1930s and 40s as the World’s Largest Strawberry Exchange, the Wallace community will be paying homage to the luscious red berry that once put them on the map. The festival actually ran, off and on, from sometime in the 1920s until around 1955. With its resurgence in 2011, the festival brought back a lot of good memories and became the catalyst for new ones.
Several stories circulate about how the strawberry plant made its way to Duplin Roads, which was incorporated as Wallace in 1889. The most familiar one tells of Gabriel Boney’s 1880 visit to Baltimore.
Boney was a merchant and farmer in the heart of downtown Duplin Roads. He was in Baltimore to buy goods for his store when he was invited by a fellow merchant to visit his farm on the eastern shore of the state. The gentleman was eagerly involved in cultivating a new fruit called “the strawberry.” He gave some strawberry plants to Boney who, upon returning home, had them planted in his fields just west of the present Wallace Depot.
The plants thrived in the soil and climate of eastern North Carolina. Because of Boney’s good fortune and determination to grow the plant, along with other farmers following suit, the town of Wallace later enjoyed the distinction of the title, “the World’s Largest Strawberry Exchange.”
Town residents are looking forward to this year’s event and say it will be another opportunity to promote the strawberry and Wallace.
Among the events scheduled for the two-day event is a performance by the Band of Oz on Friday, May 12, beginning at 7 p.m.; Saturday music from Brian Mayer, Nantucket and the Chairman of the Board; as well as a plethora of activities including helicopter rides, a daredevil dig show, karoke, carnival rides, vendors, food trucks and the touch tank and reptile display.
For more information on the Strawberry Festival, call town hall at 910-285-4136, visit www.carolinastrawberryfestival.com or check out the special section publishing in The Sampson Independent Sunday, May 7.