Dining With Denise Neil

Strawberries & Art fest lets visitors pick berries, buy art, eat pie

Strawberries are ready for picking at Harper’s Sweet Berries & Brambles, which will put on its annual Strawberries & Art Festival on Saturday.
Strawberries are ready for picking at Harper’s Sweet Berries & Brambles, which will put on its annual Strawberries & Art Festival on Saturday.

The strawberries are red, ripe and ready to pick. The art is chosen, priced and ready to sell.

And Little Lion, the popular Wichita purveyor of homemade ice cream, just about has its homemade strawberry ice cream frozen and ready to lick.

Saturday is the fourth year for Strawberries & Art, an event at Harper’s Sweet Berries & Brambles strawberry patch, where the berries are at their peak. (The patch sits 48 miles southwest of Wichita at 309 NE 120 Road, three miles north of Harper.)

The event, which will last from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., combines berry picking and fine art shopping along with lots of food to purchase, and it always draws attendees from Wichita.

The strawberry patch is owned by Leslie and Joel Gerber, both teachers at Chaparral Middle School in Anthony. Five years ago, the couple moved their house from nearby Anthony to Joel’s family farm. They had lots of land available and decided to plant a strawberry patch, where they’ve run a you-pick business ever since. This year, they have 5,000 plants in the field and have been open to pickers for a week.

The couple has local friends who also are teachers, Isaac and Karina Shue. Isaac is an artist who makes pottery, and he approached the couple four years ago with the idea of a festival that combined art and berries. This year, 16 artists will line the Gerbers’ spacious driveway with booths selling their wares. Gerber said this isn’t a craft fair, though. It’s strictly art items, including pottery, landscape photography, calligraphy and woodworking. There will be a craft booth for children.

The event also has five food vendors, who will sell homemade morsels to eat on-site or to take home. In addition to Little Lion’s ice cream, made using the farm’s berries, Saturday’s event will feature barbecue, tacos, sugar cookies and homemade pies. One vendor will sell homemade goat cheese.

People also can pick berries while visiting the event. (You-pick berries are $2.50 a pound, and pre-picked are $4 a pound.) And Leslie Gerber said the berries are just about perfect at the moment.

“They’re delicious,” she said. “They’re awesome. They put the grocery store strawberries to shame.”

Starting on Thursday, the patch’s hours will be 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The strawberry season lasts until early June, and then once the farm’s blackberries are ready, it reopens for blackberry picking.

For more information, visit www.sweetberriesks.com.

Denise Neil: 316-268-6327, @deniseneil

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