Even though the strawberries are running late, they are looking great, says grower Julie Townsend
By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN With the cool spring delaying the strawberry crop, Dassel’s annual Dairy Berry Day has been pushed back to the latest it’s ever been, according to grower Julie Townsend of Dassel Hillside Farm, who, in conjunction with Dassel Co-op, organized the first event roughly 20 years ago.
“Though they are very late, the berries look great,” Townsend said.
She and her husband, Karl have been in the business of growing strawberries for 25 years and this is one of the latest seasons they have seen, Julie said.
Since the season typically runs for three weeks for the Townsends, it is expected to go through mid-July.
Dassel Hillside opened to pick-your-own berries this past weekend.
It opens daily at 7 a.m., weather permitting, and is first-come, first-serve. During the first week, berries are typically picked out by 8 a.m., Julie said.
“There is a lineup of people waiting at 6:30 a.m.,” she said.
Margaret Salo of Cokato is one of those people who likes to get out there early to pick berries. She picks quite a few times during the season, she said.
Salo has been picking at Dassel Hillside for as long as she can remember. She uses the berries for making jam, which her grandchildren enjoy. She will also freeze berries for a healthy treat later.
At the beginning of what the Townsends call U-Pick, there are generally more people than berries. Toward the end of the season, it flip-flops to where there are more berries and less people to pick them, she noted.
Customers just can’t seem to wait for the locally grown berries, which Julie said are sweeter and juicer than the berries from California.
Strawberries can be purchased in either 3-quart or 6-quart containers and can easily be frozen in a single layer on a tray after being washed and having the tops taken off, Julie recommended.
Dairy Berry Day is Thursday
Community members are invited to Dassel Thursday at 7 p.m. for the annual Dairy Berry Day to enjoy free ice cold root beer floats and strawberry sundaes.
Becuase the berries are so late this year, so it the event.
“This is the latest we’ve ever had it,” Julie said.
Each year, ice cream is donated by Dassel Co-op and the strawberries from Dassel Hillside Farm. In addition, Bernicks supplies the root beer for the floats.
People are encouraged to bring a lawn chair and come out to Bandstand Park on Atlantic Avenue to enjoy not only the cool treats, but also music provided by the Mid-Minnesota Concert Band.
The band is made up of area musicians playing a variety of instruments. Music includes song selections from the musical “Jersey Boys,” Duke Ellington, Leroy Anderson, and much more.
The band is directed by Kendell Kubasch of Howard Lake and is sponsored by Dassel Area Chamber of Commerce.
This is also an opportunity to meet the Dassel ambassadors and candidates as they dish up the ice cream. The new ambassadors will be crowned during Red Rooster Days in September.
There are seven candidates this year; Courtney Helmin, Alex Piepenburg, Karyssa Huikko, Colee Jennissen, Sara Hughes, Kristina Rootes, and Kelsey Jacques.