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56th annual Strawberry Festival returns to Saanich

The Strawberry Festival is free and will be held at Beaver Lake on July 8

The summer season is about to be in full swing, and with the first week of July, comes the 56th annual Saanich Strawberry Festival.

Mayor Dean Murdock said he and his staff’s favourite part of the event is serving the $1 strawberries and ice cream to everyone – the staple of the festival.

“It’s just so fun to see people coming up to to get their their ice cream and see them gathered with their multi-generations, like people with their kids or their grandkids, and their moms and dads and their grandparents,” Murdock said.

“It’s just really cool to see everybody all out enjoying a beautiful day.”

Murdock’s first Strawberry Festival was in 2009, now he’s been to “nine or ten.” He said that the hardest part about putting an event like this on is managing the parking. This year, he’s hoped to have solved that problem.

“This year staff have done overflow parking,” Murdock said.

”So you can park up at Commonwealth Place and there’s a shuttle that runs back and forth.”

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Murdock encourages folks to ride their bikes to the event, and Capital Bike is offering bike valet services to help with parking.

At the festival, there will be two stages: a main stage and the kids’ stage. Murdock is excited for people to see the acts prepared for the day.

“We’ve got five different bands lined up on the main stage and and then there’s also going to be performances on the kids’ stage, including interactive singing and dancing with the kids,” said Murdock.

Aside from the musical acts, there also will be inflatables, food vendors, face painting, art activities, and local crafts and vendors.

The event normally takes place on a Sunday and hosts roughly 8,000 to 10,000 people. For the first time this year, the Strawberry Festival will be on a Saturday. Murdock said it was to make way for the Pride Parade.

“Staff made that change because in years past (the festival) has conflicted with the Pride Parade in downtown Victoria,” Murdock said.

“Saanich councillors … and staff are often involved in that event, and of course we know that a lot of community members are involved in that event.”

The event held at Beaver Lake Park begins at 11 a.m. on July 8 and will go to 3 p.m.