Pickers’ Jam at Pineland Strawberry Moon Festival
The Pineland Farms strawberry picking celebration in New Gloucester last weekend was a breath of fresh air for those who enjoy the outdoors, music, camaraderie and, of course, strawberries.
The Strawberry Moon Festival, held at Pineland from June 24-26, featured food trucks, a cash bar, live music and a strawberry picking.
â€œIt was just something different than what you would do in the evening with music and foodâ€¦ it’s really something unique,â€ â€‹â€‹said Ariel Trovencal, office manager for Pineland Product Farm. . â€œIt’s definitely an event to help families and people go out and do something different with their afternoon and evening hours.
Elizabeth Jacobson of North Yarmouth usually picks her strawberries at Pineland Farms during the day, but has opted for the celebration on Friday night instead.
â€œIt’s nice to be outside now instead of coming in the heat of the day,â€ said Jacobson.
The festival takes its name from the full moon phenomenon in June which marks the start of the strawberry picking season. Strawberry Moon is the name traditionally used by the Algonquin tribes.
The event first took place in 2019 for one night and was canceled last summer due to the pandemic.
This year’s event was capped at 500 people per night and full for each night.
â€œI think there is a lot of excitement,â€ Trovencal said. â€œPeople are happy to come back to choose yours. I’m sure some didn’t choose last year, just because they weren’t out in public so much, especially our older audience.
Maine is one of the top pick-your-own berry states, tied for seventh in the rankings of Gurney’s Seed & Nursery, an Indiana-based garden and plant company. Maine’s ranking for strawberries alone came in fourth, behind Delaware, Vermont and Wisconsin.
The strawberry season arrived early this year due to the weather, local farmers said. There was little spring frost, allowing the berries to grow quickly and healthily.
Pineland has seen more people pick your own strawberries this season so far.
â€œThe berries arrived full and fast, and the picking is excellent this year,â€ said Trovencal. “Our numbers are definitely higher this year than last yearâ€¦ but I think we will definitely have berries until July 4th.”
As pandemic restrictions ease in Maine, so do guidelines for strawberry picking.
â€œThis is our first time outdoors,â€ said Jan Barrett, who came from Lewiston with his cousin, daughter and grandson. â€œIt’s liberating. It’s nice to be around other people, and it’s well organized and well distributed.
Pocket Full of Mumbles, a â€œSimon and Garfunkel-inspired trio,â€ performed on all three nights of the festival.
â€œIt was the band’s first big gig since the pandemic,â€ guitarist Hal Phillips said. â€œIn general it was really great, and it got more people every day. They got closer to the stage, and it was like remembering how to attend an event just as we got used to performing again.
Clayton Whalen, who works for The Bar Association, a mobile bartending company formed during the celebration, also said the celebration was a success.
â€œEveryone seems happy to be here,â€ Whalen said. â€œIt’s a relief. There is excitement in being able to socialize, go out and do something different.
With a report from The Morning Sentinel.
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