The Strawberry Festival was first held in June 1982 at the old Montgomery Hospital grounds in Olney, MD. It was created and chaired by Cindy Chirtea as a fundraiser for the museum. It was completely staffed by volunteers and featured many of the same activities as today, including craftspeople, entertainment, games, a plant sale, and food and drinks for sale. It was the only fundraiser for the museum for many years and was supported by local businesses from the very beginning. It had always been held on a Saturday in June and had an estimated 7,000 attendees in 2017. Starting in 2018, the Festival became a two-day event, to support the growing attendance.
The event still retains much of its small-town flavor and volunteers still play a major role in the planning and execution of the festival. Over 200 volunteers help out on the day of the event, many of them high school students who are earning Student Service Learning (SSL) hours. The Strawberry Festival has been around so long it is now a part of the history of the community in its own right and there are several volunteers, Robb Newman being one, who have volunteered for every festival since 1982.
Many festival attendees remember coming as children and now they are returning with their own children and grandchildren! The festival is still the largest fundraiser the museum holds. However we like to think of it as a gift to the community, a way for many small local businesses to meet their neighbors, for community residents to discover all that Sandy Spring, MD has to offer, and for local craftspeople to sell their unique products to a huge, excited audience.