The First Annual Strawberry Festival was held on Thursday, June 10th 1965. The festival was the idea of parishioner Pat Harding, who suggested the church host a strawberry festival, such as they had back in her hometown of Lymington, England. With Nate Gore, Church Sexton, the Cathedral Women thought they could both raise funds and have some fun.
The Cathedral Women baked and sold 100 homemade shortcakes on the church lawn on that first festival in 1965. They decided to host it on Thursday night to capitalize on the evening hours of the J.C. Penny Co. Department Store on monument circle. Within two hours they had sold out of shortcakes.
Christ Church Cathedral has a long-standing tradition of raising money with sweet, summery berries. In Eli Lilly's book, The Little Church on the Circle, he documents how CCC has been raising funds with strawberries since 1864.
"The young ladies of the Christ Church Bible Class took advantage of the early summer season to give a successful strawberry festival at Masonic Hall (admission 25 cents). Over $250 was realized, which was applied toward the liquidation of a small debt still pending against the church." As noted in the Indianapolis Daily Journal, June 13, 1864 pg. 3 col. 1.
In 1856 the Strawberry Festival was held on the evening of June 3. The Indianapolis Daily Journal summed it up thus:
"The Festival of the ladies of Christ Church at Masonic Hall on Tuesday evening, was about as pleasant an affair as it has been our lot of late to witness. Strawberries and ice cream were on tables in all parts of the hall for the refreshment of the company, and were disposed of with a relish that put the stamp of approval upon their qualities. A happier looking assemblage of faces we have not seen in a long while." - June 5th, 1856 pg. 3 col. 1.
Every year on the second Thursday of June The Cathedral Women of Christ Church Cathedral hold our annual Strawberry Festival. For 2018 the congregation baked over 18,000 shortcakes. Over 300 volunteers will come help serve strawberries, ice cream, and homemade shortcakes.
We continue this beloved tradition of our congregation and our city and look forward to many more to come!