Hot day for cool berries at fest

By Sean Barron


Even though it's more than four months away, Logan Wolfe was acting in a manner slightly reminiscent of Halloween as he meticulously filled a small basket during part of a healthful scavenger hunt.

Suffice it to say his efforts bore ripe fruit.

“It’s really fun, and they smell really, really beautiful,” the 12-year-old Calcutta boy said as he loaded his small basket not with candy, cookies and bubblegum, but with strawberries. “It’s a very fun day today.”

Logan, his sister, Kylee, 7, and their aunt, Kimberly Smith of Salineville, were among those who braved 90-degree temperatures to fill 1- or 4-quart baskets during a Pick Your Own Strawberries event Sunday afternoon in a large field at Leffingwell and Knauf roads.

The opportunity for people to select the fruit from the field was in conjunction with the two-day Strawberry Festival that kicked off Saturday at White House Fruit Farm, 9249 state Route 62.

June is the primary berry picking time, since it’s when the fruit is at its ripest, noted Debbie Pifer, Whitehouse Farm’s owner.

Smith said that beforehand, she and her niece and nephew attended her son’s high-school graduation party, then decided to come to the fest after having heard about it via social media.

It’s not a stretch to surmise that Kylee and Logan’s hunt produced ripe fruit, because the two Beaver Local Schools students collected dozens of bright-red strawberries in a 20-foot section of a single row of plants. At one point, Logan found an unusually large strawberry he called “a strange mutant,” because it resembled several twisted smaller strawberries jammed together.

The youngsters’ next step is to eat their finds upon returning home, they said with laughter.

The same type of luck found its way to Ethan McNutt, 5, and his brother, Antonio McNutt, 9, of Boardman, whose baskets were filled to the brim.

“We might make some strawberry jam,” an excited Antonio said about his plans.

Accompanying the boys was their mother, Ariel McNutt, who recalled having picked the fruit on many occasions while living in Germany for five years during her 13 years in the Army.

Taking a casual and leisurely approach to collecting strawberries were Kara Pirko and her boyfriend, Steven Yuhasz, both of Lake Milton, who made their plans spur of the moment and decided to get their strawberries by trading in visiting an air-conditioned building at the fruit farm for spending time in the field in the heat.

“This is something cool to do,” Yuhasz said. “I’m going to give them to my grandma.”

Those who opted for staying on the farm were able to buy homemade strawberry-filled doughnuts combined with banana, lemonade, cream-cheese and glaze flavors. The treats were a draw for many likely because of the narrow window of time in which they can be purchased, said Kim Sisco, event coordinator.

“The only time we do it is at the festival,” she added.

Sisco also was among those who prepared ice cream sandwiches by splitting the fruit farm’s well-known traditional strawberry doughnuts and adding a large scoop of ice cream between the two halves. Also for sale were strawberry-themed parfait desserts that included pudding, pieces of cake and whipped topping.

The field for picking strawberries, 8652 Leffingwell Road, will be open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. today likely through next Friday. Those interested in coming are asked to first call Whitehouse Fruit Farm at 330-533-4161, Pifer advised.

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