Palm Coast, FL – Face first, Kannon Carey dove into his strawberry pie topped with whipped cream, ready to take the win, and after about a minute and a half, was declared the champ.

Not many adults are willing to get pie on their face, but there’s something about an old fashioned pie eating contest that makes them shuck off their cares and go for it.

Drawing hundreds of families to Town Center on Saturday, Margaret Buckler, organizer of the annual Strawberry Festival sat down to enjoy a loaded hot dog in between contests and ensuring all was going well.

Office manager June Font and Strawberry Festival event coordinator Margaret Buckler enjoy some of the tasty offerings during the 4th Annual Strawberry Festival, held in Central Park, Palm Coast on March 13-14, 2021.

After COVID restrictions closed down activities early last year for the festival Buckler was glad to be back and see folks streaming through the gates.

“We’re very happy with the crowds,” said Buckler. “The vendors were very excited to come back and be here. They have a really good time and it’s the perfect kickoff to the spring.”

Festival attendance remained steady throughout the day as families headed to Central Park to enjoy the outdoor entertainment that included plenty of free activities for the kids.

Three generations of Ludeckers were on hand to take a lap around the lake and let the little ones stretch their legs.

“We usually come every year,” said Brenda Ludecker. “There’s something for everybody here, lots of friends here.”

Three generations of the Ludecker family were out to enjoy some family time at one of their favorite annual events on Saturday, March 13, 2021.

Lines for the pony ride extended towards city hall, as did the one for the petting zoo where chickens and bunnies were carefully played with under the watchful eye of parents and grandparents snapping photos.

“We heard about the strawberry festival from my parents. These guys love strawberries, so we thought we’d come check it out and see all the goodies here,” said the Butler family who headed up from Ormond-by-the-Sea to check out the festival. “It’s so good to be out and outside.”

In addition to a semi-truck filled with the delicious Plant City strawberries Florida is known for, attendees could enjoy made-to-order strawberry shortcakes and gourmet fudge, offered up by Fantastic Fudge and Foods, a Florida strawberry festival circuit regular since 1998.

Purveyor of sweet treats for more than 20 years, Jon Bernath gets a hand from Flo Romaine to show off the strawberry fudge so popular with festival goers, during the 4th Annual Strawberry Festival, held in Central Park, Palm Coast on March 13-14, 2021.

“I sold my pizza restaurant – the guy who used to set up next to me when I would do food events sold fudge and he was busy and had a good recipe, so I bought his recipe and I’ve been doing it ever since,” said owner Jon Bernath, musing on why his fudge is so popular.

“I think it brings ‘em back, old school maybe. It’s the first word that comes to my mind – old school, good like grandma made it.”

The two-day festival continued on Sunday.