The 43rd Annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival opens at 4pm today at Memorial Park in Ponchatoula.
Festival spokeswoman Cheri Barnes says an estimated 250,000 people attended last year's festival. They expect at least that many this weekend, maybe more.
"Obviously beautiful weather and mild temperatures and no rain in the forecast draws out a lot more people, so we expect to have large crowds this weekend," Barnes said.
And the big attraction is the strawberry itself, the official fruit of Louisiana. Festival-goers will be able to buy strawberries directly from the growers, and they'll be served every way imaginable at the festival.
"We have chocolate-covered strawberries and fried strawberries, which are similar to a jelly-filled beignet. Strawberry shortcake, strawberry lemonade, strawberry ice cream, strawberry doughnuts, you name it, there's a strawberry dessert or treat for anyone's tastebuds," Barnes said.
Barnes says the festival's economic impact has been estimated at around $32 million.
Festival hours are 4pm-10pm tonight, 9am-11pm Saturday and 10am-6pm Sunday.
Besides strawberries, the festival features entertainment on two stages and strawberry eating contests. And there's no admission charge.
Festival-goers can bring lawn chairs, picnic blankets and umbrellas onto the festival grounds but not ice chests, glass containers or pets, Barnes said.