For 41 years, the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival has provided a venue as the largest fundraiser for non-profit and charitable organizations. The festival prides itself as being one of the only festivals in which non-profit organizations are the only vendors on the official festival grounds. The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival Board was organized in 1971 and started planning for the first festival to be held in April of 1972. The first festival was co-sponsored by the Ponchatoula Jaycees and the Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce from which both organizations provided three members to serve on the festival board.
The committee and many other interested volunteers worked diligently for months planning the first festival. The location of the festival comprised of the first block of North 6th Street and only had 11 booths. This two-day event started off with a baseball game between Southeastern Louisiana University and Wisconsin State. Later that day the first annual parade made its way through Ponchatoula with 65 units from all over the state. Estimated attendance for the weekend of the first Strawberry Festival was 15,000. The crowd estimates for 2010 were over 300,000.
Our first royalty court consisted of Queen Sissy Dufreche, King Fred Beachamp, and Princess Sandy Smith. The queen and her court made several appearances on television and radio stations throughout the state to publicize the festival. During his first term in office, Governor Edwin Edwards proclaimed April as Strawberry Festival Month.
From the Strawberry Festival's humble beginning; it has "blossomed" into a Louisiana celebration as the largest free festival in the state.
Today, the annual festival is organized by Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival Board, Inc. The board is comprised of a chairperson, chairperson-elect, treasurer, secretary, parliamentarian, and other essential positions. Decisions of the festival board are the responsibility of the 16 voting board members who represent the following organizations: Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce, Ponchatoula Jaycees, Ponchatoula Rotary Club, Ponchatoula Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus, Ponchatoula Lions Club, Ponchatoula Dixie Youth Baseball, and the American Legion.
The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival board is a proud member of Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals.
We would like to thank everyone involved, past and present, that has helped make our festival such a success year after year. We look forward to another 41 great years!!