By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN Spring sprung quite early this year, making it an even earlier season for strawberries and ultimately, Dairy Berry Day.
“Berries were ready before the pickers were out of school,” said Julie Townsend of Dassel Hillside Farm. Townsend has also been coordinating Dairy Berry Day, in conjunction with Dassel Co-op, for the past 20 years.
For those who remember last year, spring came late, pushing back Dairy Berry Day to the last week in June. Julie estimates they served 50 pounds of strawberries at the event in 2011.
The berries are looking good and have been ready for picking since June 1, Julie said.
U-pick began Wednesday, where customers can come to Dassel Hillside and pick their own berries. Julie recommends pickers get there early, since it’s first-come-first-served, and before the sun gets too hot.
The berry season typically runs for two to three weeks.
Pre-picked berries are also available each day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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.
Each year, the Townsends hire teenagers to help with the picking.
This year, there are 25 pickers, 14 from last year and 11 new, Julie said.
The Townsends also have their first set of twin pickers Amy and Ashley Simonson.
Dairy Berry Day is Thursday
Community members are invited to Dassel’s Bandstand Park Thursday at 7 p.m. for the annual Dairy Berry Day to enjoy free ice cold root beer floats and strawberry sundaes.
Each year, ice cream is donated by Dassel Co-op, and strawberries from Dassel Hillside Farm. People are encouraged to bring a lawn chair.
The Mid-Minnesota Concert Band will also perform for about an hour, starting at 7 p.m. People are encouraged to bring a lawn chair.
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 serve the ice cream. The new ambassadors will be crowned during Red Rooster Days in September.
There are seven candidates this year; Aspen Lindell, Hannah Richardson, Brittany Dimond, Tifani Johnson, Maegan Huikko, Meghan Haider, and Brooke Danielson.