Ed. Note – The following is adapted from remarks during the press conference announcing the dignitaries and theme for this year’s Pungo Strawberry Festival. The remarks were made on Wednesday, May 8, at the Culpepper Barn in Pungo. The festival begins this weekend.
BY TODD JONES
PUNGO — Good morning and thank you for being here to help us kick off the 36th annual Pungo Strawberry Festival. On behalf of the Pungo Strawberry Festival Board, the committee chairs and the many volunteers who make this festival a great success, allow me to welcome each and every one of you to today’s press conference.
This is the time of year when we remind everyone that, despite the date on the calendar, we know that summer is right around the corner. We are two short weeks away from the 2019 festival. I have one big announcement at the end of the press conference regarding this year’s event.
I want to take a quick minute and celebrate everyone in the agriculture industry. Whether it is Pungo, Back Bay, Creeds or Dawley’s Corner, the men and women who live and work south of the green line make agriculture the third largest economic engine in Virginia Beach. Never forget that it is agriculture that makes Virginia Beach a great city to live, work and buy local.
First things first.
Sunday is Mother’s Day. I want to recognize all the Moms here today and ensure we tell them how much we appreciate all that they do year round. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say every day is Mother’s Day.
As I mentioned, agriculture is one of the top economic engines in Virginia Beach. But today, the strawberry is king. We see that strawberry fields are open, produce stands are roaring back to life and people hustle to get their fill of fresh fruits and vegetables.
And when you do go to one of the many produce stands in Virginia Beach, tell them the Pungo Strawberry Festival sent you.
The theme this year is “Rise and Shine: It’s Strawberry Time.” There used to be a saying, “We do more before 9 a.m. than some people do all day.”
That is a very powerful statement and a true testament to hard work and dedication. I think that accurately describes every one of the farmers here in Virginia Beach and across this great country. Please help me express our gratitude to all the families here today who are the backbone of this great industry.
The Pungo Strawberry Festival is a 100 percent volunteer organization, and we have two core missions.
The first is to support our military and pay tribute to those who have given so much to protect our freedom. After all, this festival falls on Memorial Day weekend. I would like to recognize and thank all of the veterans with us today.
Our second mission is to support local charities. This includes providing scholarship money to those who are furthering their education. Our scholarship committee awards roughly $15,000 each year to college-bound students.
By supporting this festival, you are helping us donate back to organizations right here in the Pungo area. You are funding scholarships for local students to put towards their college education.
Since 1984, the Pungo Strawberry Festival has donated well over $1.2 million.
The Pungo Strawberry Festival continues to be an alcohol free festival. We promote a fun atmosphere where people of all ages can enjoy the many family activities we have to offer. Our parking fee this year remains at $10 per car.
I want to take a minute to recognize everyone who makes this festival happen each year. This includes not only the volunteers within our organization, but the residents, business owners and landowners in the Pungo area.
Without you and your continued support there would be no festival. Perhaps the greatest show of appreciation is to come back after the festival and support these businesses after Memorial Day and throughout the year.
Jones is the chairperson for the festival’s board. Visit pungostrawberryfestival.info for more information.
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