Chassell readies for 65th Copper Country Strawberry Festival

CHASSELL – The Centennial Park Pavilion in Chassell was filled Thursday with community members preparing strawberries for this year’s Strawberry Festival.

The 65th annual festival is today and Saturday in Chassell.

Today’s events include an arts and crafts sale, wagon rides, a children’s parade, a quilt show at the Holy Trinity Church, an open house at the Chassell Heritage Center and a dance at the Chassell Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

The Strawberry Festival Queen selection ceremony starts at 7 p.m, with the crowning at approximately 8 p.m. The winner from among the 12 candidates will receive a $500 scholarship.

Also at the ceremony, the Lions Club will present awards for the Citizen of the Year, Youth Citizen of the Year and Melvin Jones Award, which is given to an outstanding Lions Club member.

Many of today’s events, such as the quilt show, wagon rides, and arts and crafts, continue into Saturday. They’re joined by other events, including the parade at 11 a.m., the Friends of Fashion show, a chicken barbecue, a pancake breakfast, children’s games and 45-minute voyages aboard the Agassiz research vessel.

“It’s such a great family event,” said Lions Club president Pam Hiltunen.

The festival was created to celebrate the strawberry-growing heritage of Chassell, which once had more than 200 farms in the area.

“There aren’t as many now, but they still come through,” Hiltunen said. “Without them, where would we be?”

Probably not at the pavilion, where volunteers cut and cleaned 1,200 quarts of strawberries for the 3,600 strawberry shortcakes the Lions Club will prepare this weekend.

Hiltunen said she’s continually amazed by the number of people who volunteer for one or more community groups’ food stands at the weekend.

“You’ll see one member working for a club, and then a couple hours later you’ll see them working at another booth,” she said.

The event is the biggest annual fundraiser for the Lions Club, which puts the money back into the community through scholarships and community projects.

Hiltunen has loved the Strawberry Festival since she was a child, when the festival parade was organized on the corner by her house.

“That’s why I’m in Lions, because I want other kids to have that experience, and the support of a small town,” she said.

For more information and a full schedule of events, go to