Dining With Denise Neil

Strawberries & Art fest lets visitors fill pails with red ripeness, eat pie, buy art

It's berry picking time in Kansas, and the strawberries will be ripe and ready at the Strawberries & Art Festival near Harper on Saturday.
It's berry picking time in Kansas, and the strawberries will be ripe and ready at the Strawberries & Art Festival near Harper on Saturday. The Wichita Eagle

It's strawberry picking time in Kansas.

But if you want to get the best of the patch at one of Saturday's biggest picking events of the year, you'll want to get there early.

Strawberries & Art, a popular festival that drew big crowds last year to the Sweet Berries & Bramblesstrawberry patch near Harper, returns for its fifth annual installment on Saturday.

The event, which will last from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., will feature fine-art shopping along with lots of food to purchase. But the big draw will be the big, sweet, red, ripe berries waiting in the nearby patch for people to pick and take home.

The berries are at their peak, said Leslie Gerber, who owns the patch with her husband, Joel. Crowds have already been descending on it since it opened a little more than a week ago, but a so-far untouched patch should be ripe and ready by Saturday.

Still, she said, those who want the best berries should arrive early on Saturday because they probably won't last all the way until 3 p.m.

"We've been crazy, crazy busy, which is awesome," she said. "But there are still lots of berries out."

The festival will also have 20 vendors, including several serving food. Among the items for sale will be burgers, rotisserie chicken, tacos and homemade pies. Little Lion Ice Cream from Wichita also will be there, and last year, it sold a divine strawberry ice cream made using the patch's berries.

There will also be vendors selling things like homemade vanilla extract, pottery and woodworking, and the festival will have live music.

The patch sits 48 miles southwest of Wichita at 309 NE 120 Road, three miles north of Harper.

This year, it costs $1 to enter the festival. You-pick berries cost $2.75 a pound.

After the festival, the patch will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily and may open an occasional evening. Strawberries should be available for about two more weeks. The patch will then close until the blackberries in the farm's bramble ripen, likely three weeks from now.

For more information, visit www.sweetberriesks.com.

(FILE VIDEO - JUNE 16, 2017) Elderslie Farm near Valley Center is hosting farm-to-table dinners on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in June and July.

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