Stars align for sunny start to festival

Perfect weather draws crowds for annual festival

By Melanie Yingst -

Matt Watkins

TROY — Lights! Camera! Action!

The 2017 Troy Strawberry Festival kicked off Saturday morning with bright blue skies, warm temperatures and hundreds of volunteers gearing up for the day full of sales to support their organization throughout the year.

“It’s this great! A bright sunny day and I’m looking at this beautiful sun — isn’t it great?” said Mayor Michael Beamish during the opening ceremonies.

The 2017 Troy Strawberry Festival Chairman Matt Watkins shared the story of his theme “Silver Screen Strawberries” and introduced his family. Watkins shared how the “silver” pays tribute to both Hollywood and to his wife, Lynn, and their silver anniversary, which they celebrated in March.

Watkins said the festival is expected to bring more than $260,000 in funds, which more than 70 local clubs and organizations will benefit from throughout the coming year.

“The real untold story, the real value that can’t be measured in dollars and cents is the sense of community and family pride the Troy Strawberry Festival that embodies everything Troy is about,” Watkins shared. “The clubs and organizations we have here and the good works that they do, they are the stars … so my theme is actually a little deeper than it started out with. I’ve come to the realization that we are all a star in our own personal movie. Everyone has worth and everyone is interested in what you do personally.”

Watkins said he and his wife have volunteered in a variety of capacities over the last 20 years. Their first task was to number more than 4,000 rubber ducks — by hand — in a friend’s basement for the former duck race on the river.

“We’ve been married for 25 years as of March. The silver screen portion of the theme, that’s our silver anniversary, and that’s my way of giving my wife the recognition that she needs for putting up with me for 25 years, so thank you very much honey,” he said. “We can’t do this without friends, believe me.”

Watkins also helped introduce the festival favorites such as the 2017 Troy Strawberry Festival Queen Sierra Simon, First attendant Natalie Rocke and Second attendant Randi Frazier as well as the 2017 Golden Couple Carl and Linda Sexauer of Piqua. They’ve been married 57 years and won the “Not-So Newly Wed” game held at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center in May.

For more Troy Strawberry Festival photos, see page A5.

Matt Watkins Watkins
Perfect weather draws crowds for annual festival

By Melanie Yingst

Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews

Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews