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Insider's guide to strawberry fest: 7 things to know

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WHAT: 2016 Troy Strawberry Festival

WHERE: Downtown Troy

HOURS: 6-9 p.m. Friday, June 3; 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday, June 4; 10 a.m. -6 p.m., Sunday, June 5.

PARKING: Free shuttles are available from the Miami County Fairgrounds, 650 N. County Road 25-Q; WACO Air Museum, 1865 S. Country Road 25-A and Hobart Corp/ITW Food Equipment, 701 South Ridge Ave. Shuttle hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday.

INFO: (937) 339-7714 or gostrawberries.com

It’s sweet, it’s red, and this year it’s 40 years old.

Always held the first weekend in June, the Troy Strawberry Festival marks the beginning of the region’s summer food fests, and it’s a biggie, attracting up to 150,000.

Here are seven things to know before you go:

1. About 200 vendors will be selling all sorts of goodies. You’ll find strawberry pie, of course, as well as shortcake, cheesecake, smoothies and chocolate-covered strawberries. But that’s only the beginning: the offerings include the exotic. Must-tries: Holy Cannoli, strawberry brats, strawberry salsa and strawberry pickles. Bring lots of cash. 

2. Strawberry donuts are the most popular item. Made by the Troy Music Boosters, the donuts typically sell out on Sunday afternoon. “The line can be three hours long,” said Nathan Walters, 2016 Strawberry Festival general chairman. How many donuts is that? “18,000 dozen donuts were made last year,” said Corie Schweser, business manager for the festival. The donuts will be made and sold 24/7. Miami County residents can start buying them at 7 a.m. Thursday, June 2. Sales open up to everybody else Thursday afternoon. If you want donuts, go early and stock up; they freeze well.  >> RELATED: 12 strawberry treats you must try at Troy Strawberry Festival

3. There’s more than strawberries to eat. Burgers, hot dogs, barbecue chicken and sandwiches, fish, sweet corn and other typical festival fare are also on the menu. 

4. You’ll find plenty of non-food items for sale. “All the craft items are high-quality arts and crafts,” Walters said. 

5. Entertainment and activities abound. Two stages – the Levee/Memorial Stadium and the Prouty Plaza Stage downtown – will offer music and other entertainment. One of the special treats will be the Miami-Shelby Melody Men Chorus, an all-male a capella vocal group specializing in barbershop music. The group will perform at the festival’s opening ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday. Family-friendly activities include a diaper derby and a strawberry pie-eating contest. “You can’t use your hands,” Schweser said. “And you have to eat all the berries.” 

6. The Mayflower Art Theater will be showing a documentary looking back at the first 40 years of the festival. The community wanted to host a food festival. Sweet corn was an option, but Fulton Farms had another idea. “Forty years ago, Mr. Fulton had just planted his first field of strawberries,” Schweser said. She and Walters explained that Fulton and a larger team of community members decided strawberries would make a great festival theme. “It would be the first food festival of the summer,” Schweser said. 

7. Thousands of Troy residents pitch in to help. “It’s truly a community event,” Walters said. “It takes everybody to put it on.” Nonprofit groups staff the booths, and money raised goes to support their programs. Proceeds raised from Holy Cannoli sales, for example, will feed the homeless.

 

>> RELATED: 4 reasons to visit Troy

Taste of Greene County crowns more than 30 winners

A little cold can't keep the foodies away.

Despite the weather, about 1,500 people attended the 19th Annual Taste of Greene County on Sunday, April 10, at Wright State's Nutter Center. The event showcased the culinary offerings of two dozen restaurants, bakers and caterers.

“We had a great variety of restaurants, and options of items to sample,” said Dawn Mader, operations manager for Beavercreek Chamber of Commerce. “In addition to the restaurants, we had great volunteers who helped make the event a success.”

The annual tasting provides an opportunity to sample items from local restaurants, and it gives restaurants an opportunity to try out new dishes.

Ele Cake Company debuted three new cakes, which they plan to offer in the future. The Holiday Inn in Fairborn won Best Entrée with Fish Tacos. “They have a newly renovated restaurant, and recently completed hotel renovations," Mader said.

Taste of Greene County was presented by the Beavercreek Chamber of Commerce, Greene Memorial Hospital, Soin Medical Center and Kosins Tents & Events.

Mader said the date for next year’s Taste of Greene County will be announced this summer.

Here are the winners of Sunday’s event:

Best Beverage: 1st place, Smoothie King; 2nd place, City Barbeque; 3rd place, McAlister's Deli 

Best Breakfast: 1st place, IHOP; 2nd place, Bob Evans; 3rd place, Mimi's Cafe

Best Appetizer: 1st place, Bar Louie; 2nd place, Giovanni's Fairborn; 3rd place, The Oilerie Dayton

Best Soup/Salad: 1st place, Packy's Sports Bar and Restaurant; 2nd place, Giovanni's Fairborn; 3rd place, Bravo Cucina Italiana

Best Sandwich: 1st place, Dibella's Subs; 2nd place, McAlister's Deli; 3rd place, City Barbeque 

Best International Cuisine: 1st place, Bravo Cucina Italiana; 2nd place, Giovanni's Fairborn; 3rd place, Jeet India Restaurant

Best Entree: 1st place, Holiday Inn Dayton Fairborn; 2nd place, bd's Mongolian Grill; 3rd place, Chicago Gyros and Dogs

Best Dessert: 1st place, Ele Cake Company; 2nd place; Cake, Hope, and Love; 3rd place, Giovanni's Fairborn

People's Choice: 1st place, Giovanni's Fairborn; tied for 2nd place, Bravo Cucina Italiana and McAlister's Deli 

Best Decorated Booth: 1st place- McAlister's Deli, City Barbeque, Cake, Hope, and Love

Sponsors Choice Award: City Barbeque

TomorrowWorld EDM festival brings nearly $100M to Georgia

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Among the parade of generic office parks lining Fulton Industrial Boulevard in Atlanta resides a unit stocked with contents that are anything but ordinary.

Painted fiberglass mushrooms the size of a Mazda lean against the floor. Candy cane-striped poles are tucked tightly together as if sharing bunk beds. Triple stacks of green and yellow picnic tables look like flattened turtles.

If Disney World and Home Depot mated, the result would look something like the innards of this 50,000-plus-square-foot warehouse housing a chunk of the decorations and supplies for TomorrowWorld.

The massive electronic dance music festival, which has boasted an annual parade of 300 DJs/producers including David Guetta, Afrojack and Steve Aoki, will be back in Georgia's Chattahoochee Hills Sept. 25-27 and is expected to bring another windfall of spending in the state.

Last year’s TomorrowWorld spurred $93.9 million in economic activity across Georgia, including $71.8 million in the Atlanta area, during the three-day event, according to a study paid for by the event’s producers.

The 2014 numbers represent an increase from the 2013 festival, which generated economic impact calculated at $85.1 million for Georgia, with $70 million of it in Atlanta and neighboring areas, according to an earlier study.

The average TomorrowWorld visitor stayed 3.5 days in the Atlanta area, indicating that attendees from all 50 states, as well as Canada, Mexico and Europe, are viewing the festival — a 21-and-older gathering — as a travel destination.

TomorrowWorld producers commissioned the economic impact report from Virginia-based research firm ICF International.

In 2013, the inaugural year that TomorrowWorld branched off from its parent festival in Belgium, TomorrowLand, which celebrates its 11th year in July, and staked out the 8,000 acres of farmland in south Fulton County, about 120,000 fans attended over the three-day period.

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That fell short of the projected goal of 50,000 per day. But last year, the number bounced to 160,000 attendees for the duration of the festival, according to the report.

For 2015, organizers are optimistic about a 20 percent increase.

“We really want to become the pillar in the state of Georgia,” said Jamie Reilly, project director for TomorrowWorld and a decadelong veteran of Cirque du Soleil, while in the storage warehouse. “TomorrowWorld is not just a festival, it’s an experience and that’s what makes it so unique. We put the emphasis on the experience from the moment (attendees) buy a ticket to how they receive the ticket to how they camp with us.”

The land at Chattahoochee Hills — which TomorrowWorld has contracted for eight more years — can accommodate up to 200,000. But while a sell-out would be celebrated, producers are cautious about the growth rate.

“We want to ensure that we don’t compromise the fan experience due to the quantity of the people at the venue,” Reilly said.

This year’s festival, which will operate under the theme of “The Key to Happiness,” will feature more than 300 marquee names including Guetta, Tiësto, Steve Angello, Martin Garrix, Afrojack, Hardwell, Armin van Buuren, Adventure Club and Ferry Corsten.

TomorrowWorld will grow to nine stages in 2015 — an increase of one — including a live music stage. Last year’s popular “Atlanta Stage,” which spotlighted local acts, will return.

In a continued effort to infuse TomorrowWorld with local flavor to differentiate it from its counterparts in Belgium and the newest version of the festival in Brazil — which took place in May — organizers will hold a vendor fair as well as a job fair.

“TomorrowWorld is part of the TomorrowLand brand, and we now have three festivals yearly,” Reilly said. “But each has a unique taste to them, a unique lineup and differences and intricacies.”

Here are some other statistics from the economic growth report:

Gallery: Day of the Dead

'Sound City' red carpet, 03.13.13

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