A few days of real summer temperatures culminated in the perfectly splendid weather of Saturday, June 28, which contributed in bringing out a record crowd to attend the 72nd annual Canadice strawberry festival. Although at least seven other festivals were held on this same evening it was pleasing to see so many present. This festival brought to mind some interesting facts, relative to the long history of the event.
Following are a few items from the diary of the late Thomas Eldridge, for many years a prominent resident of Canadice, which may be of interest:
On June 28, 1879, the same day of the month as this year’s event, Mr. Eldridge recorded that the morning was showery and that he attended the strawberry festival at Canadice Lake in the afternoon. This is the first record we can find and the event was probably held at Stout’s resort, as it was for many years. It was always held in the day time. Mr. Eldridge also stated that he paid $1.00, and as his family consisted of four persons, the price of. a ticket was evidently 25 cents. This continued to be the price until about 1916.
In the 73 years since this record was made many changes have taken place. The location had to be changed to several different places at the lake after the city had acquired the lake shore. In 1917 there was no festival held as the trustees of the church decided to give it up. In 1918 the Ladies Aid decided to sponsor it and they have been in charge of it ever since. For two years it was held in a grove at Canadice Corners, then for one year at Honeoye Lake, and finally at the Canadice Church.
The price of the tickets has ranged from 25 cents in 1879 to $1.25 in 1952, following the trend of the times. Needless to say that there have been many changes among the people attending. In earlier years the crowd was composed mostly of home town people, with some from nearby communities who came in horse drawn conveyances. Gradually visitors came from farther afield until in 1952 licenses from several different states were observed in the parking space and people were present from several cities and many towns of the surrounding counties. It is these people who contribute so largely to the continuation and the success of these events. Without their patronage and encouragement the strawberry festival at Canadice would soon cease to be.
Among those present on Saturday evening were two of the grandchildren of Thomas Eldridge, Mrs. Harry Ardell of Atlanta and Burton Eldridge of Olean, as well as descendants of many other Canadice residents who were instrumental in managing the festivals in its infancy and nourishing it through adversity and prosperity until the present time.
The eldest person present on Saturday evening was Mrs. Henry Shields of Rochester, 94; the youngest, William Alan Johnson, six-months-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Johnson. One of the guests mentioned that she had attended the festival 22 years and there were probably several guests who could boast of a longer attendance than that.
Like the political parties who begin planning the next campaign before they finish the present one, just so those most interested in its success are making plans for the next year and ideas for 1955, which will be the 75th event.
All join in extending thanks to all friends who aided by their presence and co-operation in the success of this year’s festival. The affair came to a close as a beautiful, silvery new moon hung in the western sky. Total receipts to date are $602.20.