The kind of strawberries you only see in June, the kind with the dark red centers, are arriving in farm stands all over Long Island. It’s a good month for strawberry festivals, One of the first, a week before the renowned Riverhead strawberry fair, is held in Center Moriches.
The center of the festival is Company 1 of the Center Moriches Fire Department, which (with a little help from some California grown fruit) serves strawberry shortcake to more than 1,000 people. This year the festival will be on Saturday, June 11. The annual fundraiser started serving around 100 portions in 1974, how it has grown. Members of Company One do all the prep and serve from the firehouse kitchen on Main Street. The shortcake is made locally. Company 1 hulls and slices 105 flats of berries, starting two days ahead of the event, while other fire department members whip 120 quarts of cream for the delectable dessert.
Originally, this was strictly a first responder affair, until Company 1 developed it with the Chamber of Commerce and the annual street fair. Now Main Street, Center Moriches, is lined with vendors selling crafts, toys, jewelry, T-shirts and handmade attractive goods. People browse the sidewalk sales from the elementary school up on the hill at the west end of town down to the firehouse, where they top the experience with strawberry shortcake. Families make a day of it, starting or ending at the firehouse, where the desert is piled into bowls of deliciousness.
Shortcake will be served between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.. The fair is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.