File photo: Katharine Schroeder

Father’s Day weekend is coming up and on the North Fork, that means one thing: It’s Strawberry Festival time. Sorry, Dad.

As the local strawberry crop reaches its peak, the plump, juicy red berries bursting with flavor, the Mattituck Lions Club readies the fairgrounds for the 67th Annual Strawberry Festival.

The biggest strawberry festival on Long Island takes place Wednesday through Sunday at Strawberry Fields on County Road 48 in Mattituck. The perennial favorite offers something for everyone, from strawberry delicacies and other foods from around the world to more than 25 carnival rides and a large variety of midway games, live music, arts and crafts vendors and fireworks shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Hulling night, which takes place on Wednesday evening, is a special gathering of locals: Lions Club members, their families, friends and neighbors get together to prepare the berries for dipping in chocolate, slicing for shortcake and blending into delicious alcohol-free daiquiris.

“Hulling night is a great community day,” Mattituck Lions Club Vice President and festival chairperson Michael O’Donnell said.

Carnival rides and Midway will be open on Wednesday from 5 to 10 p.m. with Pay-One-Price Rides Bracelets sold for $30 per person. Single ride tickets will also be available.

The festival continues Thursday night from 5 to 10 p.m., Friday night from 5 to 11 p.m., all day Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fireworks shows take place, weather permitting, at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, 10 p.m. on Friday and 10:15 p.m. on Saturday.

Thursday will mark the debut of a new festival event, the Strawberry Festival Talent Show, which takes place from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

Photo: Mattituck Lions Club Strawberry Festival

A highlight of the festival is the announcement and crowning of the Strawberry Festival Queen — a tradition dating back to 1956. A panel of judges has already selected the queen and her court. The results of the pageant are top-secret until 4 p.m. Saturday, when the queen will be announced and crowned at the festival.

The crowning ceremony will be followed by the return of the World Strawberry Shortcake Eating Contest at 5 p.m. Saturday. The contest has not been held since 2019.

Admission is free on Wednesday night, $5 per person on Thursday night and $10 per person on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Children under 5 enter free.

For detailed schedule and pricing, visit the festival website.

The Strawberry Festival is an alcohol-free event and takes place rain or shine. No pets or backpacks are permitted on festival grounds. (Directions to the event and parking information here.)

Powered by Mattituck Lions Club volunteers and volunteers from the community, the Strawberry Festival is the club’s biggest fundraiser, its proceeds helping to support dozens of local charitable organizations year-round.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.