Poteet Strawberry Festival

by Anna Vogler, Bexar County Master Gardener

June 2023

Many of you may have attended the Poteet Strawberry Festival, held annually in Poteet, Texas, each April. I have enjoyed the opportunity to help judge the strawberry competition several times in the past 10 years, just as I did at this year’s event.

I thought it might interest you to learn some of the history of this event. This festival began in 1948 when the Poteet Rotary Club first established it as an incentive to returning World War II veterans to begin farming again. The club’s second aim was to improve the consistency of the packaging for strawberries.

The first Poteet Strawberry Festival was held in downtown Poteet the second weekend in April, 1948, and was well received by the media and south Texas citizens.

According to the Poteet Strawberry Festival website, the first festival drew approximately 5,000 people who enjoyed the party in 1948. In recent years, over 100,000 people come through the festival grounds during festival weekend. This event is volunteer run, with many organizations providing support from across Texas.

The festival has a range of activities for everyone to enjoy, including various types of live music, food vendors with every possible type of strawberry recipe, arts and crafts for sale, and carnival rides.

At the heart of this festival is the strawberry competition. Local strawberry growers show their very best berries to try to win the coveted Grand and Reserve Champion places.  Five places are awarded for each variety of strawberry, with the first-place winners then judged to determine the Grand Champion and the second-place winners judged to determine the Reserve Champion. This past April there were 10 varieties, and several flats from each variety were entered by each grower. We tasted approximately 140 strawberries on the final judging day to determine the winners of each category. The most commonly asked question to the judges was, how do all those strawberries not begin to taste the same? It may be surprising but they all have their own flavors that come through, even within the same variety. These berries are not only judged on their taste, but also on the uniformity of size, shape, and color, and on how well they are packed in the containers. 

This is just one of the many examples of horticulture in Texas and a unique event for our region. If you haven’t ever been, I hope you consider making the short drive to Poteet next April to sample some strawberry shortcake straight from Texas.

All photos by author