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69th annual Mattituck Strawberry Festival raises money for families in need

The annual festival is a must-attend event for people from across Long Island. The money raised goes right back to the community.

Jon Dowding

Jun 14, 2024, 2:45 AM

Updated 32 days ago

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The 69th annual Mattituck Strawberry Festival brought out hundreds of people on Thursday. The annual festival is a must-attend event for people from across Long Island. The money raised goes right back to the community. "We're locals, we do it every year,” said Jesse VanDuzer, of Laurel. “Do it before the weekend comes because the weekend is a lot busier than it is tonight." Chantel Carr, of Wheatley Heights, says they’re coming back for one main thing. “They have the best rides, honestly,” she said. “We came last year and we had a great time so we had to come back." This year's festival was extra sweet for some families. The Mattituck Lions Club and a group affiliated with Stony Brook Medicine welcomed families of children with disabilities for a sensory-friendly hour before the gates opened. "Giving them an opportunity to have an event where there's no crowds, no lines, the music is lower, the ride speed is slower, lets them enjoy the activities,” said Erin Vangelder. She works with the group East End OTs. Molly Jernick, of Cutchogue, says her oldest son gets anxious around long lines and crowds. The ability for her to attend a sensory-friendly hour makes her and her family feel seen. "The kids feel seen,” Jernick. “They all feel like they're included now in something and they feel just like everybody else that they get to do something fun." This festival is the Mattituck Lions Club's largest fundraiser every year to provide financial help to local families in need. Festival Chairman Adam West knows firsthand how the Lions Club helps the community. They helped his family when his daughter was diagnosed with cancer in 2011. "For me, it was quite an honor to be able to do it and give back to other families and to an organization that did a lot for me,” he said. "It's all for a good cause. That's the main point to stress." Entry is free for dads on Father’s Day when they purchase a kid’s ticket. For more info about this year’s festival, head here.


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