Locally grown strawberries hit the spot

By ERIC SLAGLE Daily News Staff Writer Picking strawberries is fun. Eating them after you've picked them is even better. Fans of the sweet-yet-slightly-tart fruit should rejoice this weekend. Triple B Farms in Forward Township is celebrating the season with its annual Strawberry Festival today and Sunday. We always try to have it so the strawberries are in peak season, said farm co-owner Carolyn Beinlich.  This year, it turned out to be this weekend. Which is one weekend later than Triple B Farms had originally anticipated. Event organizers had scheduled the festival for last weekend but moved the date back because cool temperatures were slowing down fruit ripening. The cooler spring has resulted in a crop of larger strawberries, which are popular with people who like to use the fruits for baking, and fewer small strawberries, which tend to be sweeter because they have less water content, according to co-owner Sue Beinlich. She said production is good. The most important thing is we have a great crop of strawberries,  Sue Beinlich said. Thats good news for people like Lisa Tanner and her son Colton, 4, of Davie, Fla. They began celebrating strawberry season on Friday while visiting family in the area. I try to make it up here every year,  said Tanner, a former West Mifflin resident.  Its so hot in southern Florida, they don't have a lot of stuff like this to do. The event kicks off with a strawberry pancake breakfast from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. On Sunday, breakfast begins at 10 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. Strawberry Girl will be on hand to entertain the younger kids and older children might enjoy a pony ride or a slide on the 90-foot Liberty Tube. Family members of all ages can enjoy hayrides into the farms strawberry patch. Ralph Hoffman, who was driving the tractor pulling the haywagon on Friday, said he enjoys his work. Its fun to do and I get to see people having a good time, Hoffman said. Hoffman said he likes to joke around with festival-goers. Every year I ask them,  What are you going to do with your berries? he said. After folks tell him they are baking a pie or making jam or what have you, Hoffman said he responds,  Well, Im going to be here tomorrow and for the rest of the week, so you'll have to bring me some. Once, a woman took him seriously, delivering a jar of jam a day or so later. I said, I was only joking. You didn't have to do that,  Hoffman said. See BERRIES , Page A3

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Continued from Page A1 Festival-goers can take to the fields to gather fruit or buy their berries already picked. There are also a lot of readymade strawberry desserts available in the market. Strawberry fudge, strawberry angel food cake roll, and strawberry and raspberry gobs are some of the fresh products on hand. Strawberries aren't the


only produce items in season; the Triple B market also is carrying fresh farm-grown zucchini and patty squash. Karen Tokarsky of Turtle Creek said she was planning to take advantage of the season. I do plan to make a batch of strawberry jam, she said. Directions to the farm and additional information about the festival are available at the Web site, or by calling 724-2583557.