Portland strawberry picking, long-standing tradition

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PORTLAND, Tenn. (WKRN) — Their bright red bottoms, green leafy tops, speckled bodies and sweet, juicy centers keep people coming back for more year-to-year.

Portland’s strawberries will take center stage this weekend as tens of thousands of people are expected to turn out for the 80th Annual Middle Tennessee Strawberry Festival.

It’s well-known that the strawberry industry was a big in the early 1900s for the city, also known as the “Strawberry Capital.”

According to the city of Portland’s website, around 2,000 acres of strawberry crops were harvested in a given year. And, on a good year, a record 115 rail cars carrying strawberries were shipped in a day.

Several processing plants were located in Portland that were geared towards making profits off the strawberries. There was the Strawberry Crate Company, Kruse’s, Tennessee Fresh Frozen Foods and Southland to name a few.

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News 2 spoke with John Crafton, owner of Crafton Farms. His family has been harvesting strawberries since the 1820s in the same spot off Highway 52.

“Everybody back in the 1900s was farming them.” Crafton added,” There was some 2,000 acres of strawberries back then, and now, there’s only about 15 acres in Portland.”

He said this year the berries aren’t ripe just yet. But in a couple of weeks, his farm will be open to strawberry lovers who want to come pick their own. His farm also does pre-picked baskets.

The annual Strawberry Festival launched in 1941. Now 80 years later, it’s become the longest-running festival in Sumner County.

See the schedule of events by clicking on this link.

Activities around the festival this year have already kicked off. But the main events launch Friday, May 7, and wrap Saturday, May 8, with the big parade at 4p.m.

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