SYKESVILLE — The arrival of June heralds several things -- summer vacation at thebeach, the smell of honeysuckle in the air and luscious, red strawberries.
Imagine a bowl of homemade vanilla ice cream smothered in bright red berries. The sky is blue and the sun shining warmly on the lush lawns of a rambling 1880s home overlooking small-town America.
The lively strains of bluegrass music float through the air as moms and dads eat their ice cream sundaes while the children frolic .
This idyllic setting will be the scene from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday asthe Sykesville Historic Preservation Commission's celebrates its eighth annual Strawberry Festival at the Town House, 7547 Main St.
"It's a great time to come and sit on the grass and relax and have dessert," says Becky Herman, commission chairman.
Costumed hostesses in long period skirts will serve you ice cream (Hoffman's), berries (from Sewell's in Taneytown), or ice cream covered with berries, from the porch of the Town House.
Thirsty, too? Have a glass of freshly made lemonade or iced tea. Sit on the grass or a nearby bench in the gazebo and listen to the sounds of String Band America.
Whole berries will be on sale by the quart.
The Town House also will be openfor visitors who wish to take a look at some of Sykesville's history. The commission keeps several glassed-in cases of artifacts on display on the second floor.
The festival has been a fund-raiser for the commission since its inception in 1982. This year, the group is trying to raise some $5,000 to pay for half the cost of replacing the front entrance portico on the train station that houses Baldwin's Restaurant.
"The portico would hide the glass doors, which aren't original," Herman says. "We've pledged half the cost. If we can get that done, it would be the crowning touch on the train station, and we could say that it's finished."
Unfortunately, the popular festival is in peril. Herman says if the group doesn't get more volunteers to help in planning, ordering and picking up the berries and ice cream, andworking the day of the event, this may be the last festival.
"We are in dire need of volunteers in all areas," Herman says. "Every year, it's the same people doing all the work, and several of them are elderly. It depends on just how much the community wants this."
Onejob, in particular, is readying the berries for sundaes. Every year,Thelma Wimmer, commission vice chairman, has picked up the berries the day before the festival and brought them back to her house.
In her kitchen, she gives the berries -- this year some 96 quarts -- tworinses in clear water. Around the table sit the same three women: Katherine Dwyer, Louise Richeson and Hilda Ely.
"The ladies have a tray in their laps and a bucket on the floor for the caps," Wimmer explains. "We cap the berries and slice them in half. We don't sugar them; the sweetness of the ice cream does that."
It's not too late tooffer help, and have some fun at the same time. To volunteer, call Herman at 795-8511.