Strawberry Festival

When it comes to Marion there's more to the town than many might know. In fact, from the early 1900s to World War II, it was known for its strawberries.

"This area actually had an agent who worked with it and marketed it for them," said Pastor Earl Wheatley, who is a member of the Marion Activities Committee.

After the boll weevil put an end to the cotton industry in the area, farmers looked to the ground but this time not for fluffy white cotton but to produce red, juicy strawberries.

"The Marion Beauty strawberry had its own log, its own basket, and actually in some USDA reports Marion was right up there with Hammond, Louisiana, as one of the strawberry centers of the United States," said Wheatley.

At one time, Marion officials say growing strawberries was such a big business for the town that each day at least one railroad car filled with strawberries was transported from a warehouse there to areas across the country.

Once more, job opportunities were generated. Because of World War II, many who worked strawberries moved on to other occupations. This put an end to the transport of the berry from the town.

Now Marion officials say they hope to use the town's past to build on its future. That's why funds raised from this weekend's festival, and those in the future, will be used for needed projects.

"As the income comes in from the events, things like street lights, new entrances or updates to the entrances in town are going to be paid for through the events we do," said Wheatley.

Saturday's Strawberry Festival is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Marion Town Hall.


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