We are very proud of this event, from its early roots a few short years ago to where we are today. It's truly hard to believe were only three years old!
Below is a brief history of the festival and it it came into being. It is followed by some amazing statistics to help you choose if you would like to get involved with us through sponsorship, vending opportunities, advertising or perhaps writing about us in your publication. Either way, we welcome and thank you for your interest in the Torrington Strawberry Festival.
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History of the Event It was early 2017, the Torrington Arts & Culture Commission (ACT) was looking to create a new event for downtown so they created "Saturday in the Park," a one-day arts and music festival to be held late May in the cities downtown Coe Memorial Park. A sub committee was formed headed by Edward Cannata and Rachel Kelly, and with the help of the other commissioners, "Saturday in the Park" took place on May 27th with a dozen arts & craft vendors, some food trucks and a handful of live bands performing. The event drew a crowd of about 300 people throughout the day. Although the commissioners were a little disappointed, they felt encouraged knowing it was a "first-time" event.
The next year, the Commission decided to hold the event again. Ed, chair of the commission recognized one of the biggest flaws with event and he changed the name to the "Torrington Strawberry Festival" believing confusion with the "Saturday in the Park" name may have hampered attendance and vendor engagement.
Ed's instincts proved correct, and with Rachel driving the social media campaign to solicit vendors, coupled with their new name and focus, vendors started responding. Participation rose from 12 vendors registering the prior year to 60 arts and craft vendors participating this year. Ed launched a robust marketing campaign which included professional looking graphics, radio ads, a billboard, even a Strawberry Shortcake costume was purchased to entertain kids at the event. She even rode on a float in the Torrington Memorial Day Parade a week before the event to help boost attendance.
Needless to say, the first annual Torrington Strawberry Festival was a huge success! Ed and Rachel brought 1,500-2,000 attendees to the park. Both the merchandise and food vendors reported excellent sales numbers, and along with all the positive feedback received across social media... this event was well on its way! But with this new found success came complications. Producing an event through a city commission had it's limitations, and although Ed and Rachel were able to overcome most of them, they knew that this event needed to be run by an organization better suited to handle what future growth would bring. Main Street Torrington, Inc, a local downtown not-for-profit organization who years before took over management of another popular event also started by (ACT) several years before, was selected to take over the Strawberry Festival.
Ed is also on (MST's) board so it seemed to be a perfect solution. Rachel's desire to stay with the festival led to her being asked to join the board of (MST) in early 2019. Kris Roberts, a local tax professional and board president brought her expertise in finances to the management of the festival as well.
Main Street Torrington, Inc. was now in control of the festival. New systems to manage the event were immediately put into place. Online tools were built along with a host of other improvements implemented all converging together to elevate this event to where it sits today... as New England's Premiere Strawberry Festival.
The Festival Is Growing... 2019 Statistics ----------------------------------------------------- Attendance: 8,000+ Arts & Craft Vendors: 70
Facebook / Event Listing: 16,000 clicked "Interested in Going" with 6% from Torrington Eventbrite / "Free Door Prize Tickets": 3,740 registered online
Festival Guides: 5,000 printed Guides Distributed Locally: 4,000 in shops around Litchfield County Guides Distributed at Memorial Day Parade: 1,000 handed to crowd
Strawberry Shortcake: 1,100 portions sold at event