Paige Mueller-Flack stands in a new strawberry field at Bell’s Farm. The farm’s acclaimed June bearing and everbearing strawberries will be available for u-pick and featured in homemade baked goods for sale at Strawberry Daze, starting at 10 a.m. Saturday at Bell’s Farm, 892 West Beach Road, Coupeville. The second annual festival will include tours, food trucks, music and children’s activities. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Paige Mueller-Flack stands in a new strawberry field at Bell’s Farm. The farm’s acclaimed June bearing and everbearing strawberries will be available for u-pick and featured in homemade baked goods for sale at Strawberry Daze, starting at 10 a.m. Saturday at Bell’s Farm, 892 West Beach Road, Coupeville. The second annual festival will include tours, food trucks, music and children’s activities. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Strawberry Daze returns with more to eat and do

Paige Mueller-Flack hopes to combine education, fun activities and a family-farm atmosphere into the second annual celebration of strawberries at Bell’s Farm. Despite a tough year for the berries, Strawberry Daze will be held 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday at the farm at 892 West Beach Road, according to Mueller-Flack, marketing director at the farm and creator of the event.

“It’s a pretty special place,” she said, standing on her parents’ 65-acre farm. “There’s not a lot of family farms left. I definitely love letting people see what it is we do.”

Visitors can get a closer look at the farm’s operations during trolley tours and, probably most importantly, they can get a taste of the literal fruits of the family’s labor. Pint boxes will be available for $2 and people can take home as many strawberries as they can fit into it. Homemade pies, scones and thumb-print cookies featuring the little red berries will be available for purchase.

A larger market garden, made possible by the efforts of Mueller-Flack’s husband Kyle Flack, has made a greater variety of other produce available as well. The farm grew garlic and onions for the first time since the 1980s and melons for the first time ever, Mueller-Flack said. The larger garden also allowed them to grow six varieties of potatoes.

More vendors will be present this year, including Ocean Bluff Farm with a limited-edition strawberry and goat milk cream soap, ShoNuff Foods serving barbecue, Random Acts of Food truck, Pop-N-Tyme Kettle Korn, Hot Shot Espresso, Harbor Photo Booth Company and others. Around lunchtime, the local band Mussel Flats will perform for a couple hours, another new addition this year, she said.

An area will be set aside for games like ring toss, bean toss and badminton. Children, or visitors of all ages, can also pet the farm’s miniature donkey Gandalf the Grey, sheep, animals brought from 4-H and a milking goat from Ocean Bluff Farm.

“It’ll be a really good time,” Mueller-Flack said.

This year will likely not feature as many pre-picked strawberries because of an “odd year” for the crop, according to Frank Mueller. Despite thousands of dollars spent on fencing, deer “ravaged” one of their fields last year, he said. This set them behind on the crop and the unusually warm May caused the berries to ripen faster than usual.

“It was a short season this year,” he said.

The farm has started a new field in a different location, and Mueller-Flack said it’s on track to be ready for next season. In preparation for the festival, the farm closed u-pick the week before and stopped selling at markets to keep as much of the crop available for picking on Saturday.

Mueller-Flack started Strawberry Daze both to use her training and interest in event planning and to be able to add an educational component to the farm— her other job is librarian at Coupeville Elementary School.

“We’re really trying to make this a place people want to be,” she said. “And knowing where your food comes from is so important.”

Last year around 1,500 came to the farm throughout the day, and she anticipates more on Saturday. An additional field will be set aside for parking and she said the tours will be different from last year to reduce wait times.

She said she and her family are looking forward to interacting with more of the community.

“This is a really good way for them to not only meet us, but for us to put faces to the names in the community,” she said. “And hopefully everybody has fun and learns a little bit too.”

Paige Mueller-Flack of Bell’s Farm pets Gandalf the miniature donkey. Gandalf the Grey and other animals will be featured in a petting zoo at Saturday’s Strawberry Daze. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Paige Mueller-Flack of Bell’s Farm pets Gandalf the miniature donkey. Gandalf the Grey and other animals will be featured in a petting zoo at Saturday’s Strawberry Daze. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

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