VIRGINIA BEACH — Pies, shortcake, ice cream, punch, milk or raw — these are a few ways strawberries can be enjoyed.
The Southside may be known for its Chesapeake Bay blue crab and Lynnhaven River oysters, but thousands will come together Memorial Day weekend to indulge in another local favorite — strawberries from Pungo.
The 34th annual Pungo Strawberry Festival starts Friday at 5 p.m. and ends Sunday at 7 p.m. The festival includes carnival rides, a petting zoo, magic shows and pie-eating contests and more.
“The theme this year is ‘The Sweet Taste of Pungo’ because we want to emphasize and celebrate all the wonderful food that is synonymous with Pungo and synonymous with our festival,” festival board chairman Todd Jones said at a press conference.
The fields around 1776 Princess Anne Road, near Indian River Road, is set to host one of the largest carnivals on the East Coast, feature 170 vendors, and serve more than 50 ways to eat or drink strawberries, but don’t expect wine as the event is alcohol-free, according to a festival news release.
Parking will be available at the north airfield on Princess Anne Road by Pungo Pizza, 2089 Indian River Road and 1900 N. Muddy Creek Road.
Princess Anne Road between North Muddy Creek Road and Indian River Road will close during the festival, according to the release.
People who want to pick strawberries themselves during the weekend can do so at nearby farms like Brookdale Farms, Cromwell’s Produce, Cullipher Farm Market, Flanagan Farms, Flip Flop Farmer, Henley Farm and Vaughan Farm’s Produce, according to the festival’s website.
The festival is free to attend, though on-site parking will cost motorists $10. Attendees are asked to leave their pets at home, with an exception for service animals.
Since the annual tradition started in 1984, the strawberry festival celebrates agriculture local to Virginia Beach’s countryside. This year’s event is expected to bring about 120,000 people to Pungo.
After expenses to operate the festival are covered, excess money collected from carnival tickets, parking fees and donations have benefited local charities, funded high school student scholarships and more, according to the release.
To see the festival’s schedule of performances, shows and activities, visit its website here.
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