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Posted: 07/17/13

Above, the 2013 Leonard Strawberry Festival committee is made up of, back row from left, Chuck Johnson, Kay Bittell, Treasurer Phyllis Roe and Nate Perkins. Front row from left, Wayne Sutherby, Chairperson Char Sutherby and Secretary Marie May. Below, Strawberry Festival Grand Marshals Fred and Cindy Ashley.

(Observer photos by Catherine Ulrich Brakefield)

Strawberry Festival: a
great time to reacquaint

Observer Special Writer

      Addison Township's Strawberry Festival that runs July 19-21 provides the perfect atmosphere to get reacquainted with old friends and create new ones.
       "It's nice. For one weekend this whole community comes together," said Chairperson Char Sutherby. "It's like a happy family reunion."
       The parade will start at noon on Saturday, July 20. This year's Grand Marshals are Fred and Cindy Ashley. They have extended a helping hand in every Pony Express Riding event that galloped down the Polly Ann Trail. Fred has enjoyed living in Leonard for 38 years and has been a blacksmith for 24 years. The Ashleys have three sons, Todd, David and Brett; three grandsons and one granddaughter. For Fred and Cindy, retired life is a symphony of pleasant moments with their family, especially when they hear their grandchildren calling for "Papa and Nana."
       Fred still manages to stay close to horses and just couldn't help wearing his Michigan Trail Riders T-shirt for the photo. Cindy laughs and reminisces about the fun times they had riding together.
       Other special people in the parade include one of the township's original firefighters<Edward Porter<and the following widows of original firefighters: Eleanor Hamilton, Marge McCallum, Ann Schlusler and Mary Sue Sutherby.
       This year's parade princess is third-grader Taylor Giuliani, while this year's prince is second-grader Aidan Gibson. Both attend Leonard Elementary School.
       The Strawberry Festival starts Friday night in downtown Leonard. Back by popular demand is Mitch Washer. He will provide toe-tapping entertainment from 5-8 p.m. The potluck dinner starts at 6 p.m. Paper products will be provided; just bring your own beverages.
       On Saturday, July 20, because of the Leonard Festival Committee's hard work, the train rides and inflatables are free this year. Farmer Nate will have Upland Hills Farm animals and farm activities, including piglets to cuddle and ponies to ride all day until 4 p.m. at the Polly Ann Trail. Pony rides will be $3.
       Come hungry and enjoy Saturday morning with Leonard United Methodist Church and their Pancake Breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. At noon, the delicious down-home cooking provided by Leonard Market and Pizzeria, Addison Village Market and Randy Klein Big R-BQ is sure to please every appetite.
       Other Saturday activities include vendor booths, a car show, retro games and a strawberry bake-off. The Tattoo Lady will be ready to paint your face and/or give you that special tattoo you always wanted. Leave time to taste those special sundaes served up traditional style by the Addison Township Fire Department.
       Wayne Sutherby of Universal Sound Productions will provide music. At 1:30 p.m. Amber's Dance Studio will perform on the big stage. At 4 p.m. don't miss the Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline impersonators recreating the magic of these famous entertainers. Dancing in the streets begins at 7 p.m. to the music of the Haulin Ellis band.
       From 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, enjoy a combination of modern Christian singing and old-time gospel music. The event will take place at Leonard Community Church at 4391 Whitehead, off South Street.
       If you are coming from Rochester Road, use the Lake George detour. There is plenty of parking available on Elmwood Street in Leonard.
       "Every year there is always a surprise," said Sutherby.
       For more information, log onto

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