First started as a one-day festival sponsored by the Dayton City Lion’s Club, the festival had humble and passionate beginnings. Taking its name from Rhea County’s premier crop of the early 20th century, it was not long before it became a county-wide affair. Soon this festival of strawberries, sunshine and square dancing grew to include local attractions, bands, and public figures of all kinds. The Strawberry Parade drew thousands to see the magnificent creations on display.
Governor Ned McWherter, actor Sebastian Cabot, professional musicians Tom T. Hall and Marty Stuart, and NASCAR driver Kyle Petty are merely a few of the notable figures to participate as Grand Marshalls in the Strawberry parade over the years. All the while the dazzling Strawberry Pageant girls have won the hearts of Tennesseans across the state.
The Tennessee Strawberry Festival has come a long way since that fateful May afternoon in 1947, but its roots can be found deep in the heart of Rhea County natives. So grab a glass of fresh lemonade and some sweet Tennessee strawberries, and enjoy this year’s main attractions.