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A berry good time in Long Grove

Ripe plump juicy chocolate-covered strawberries make Long Grove Confectionery must-stop during Strawberry Fest ($24/pound). | Lee A. Litas~for Sun-Times Media

Ripe, plump and juicy chocolate-covered strawberries make the Long Grove Confectionery a must-stop during Strawberry Fest ($24/pound). | Lee A. Litas~for Sun-Times Media

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The strawberries are ripe, the calendar says summer.

So it’s time to celebrate in Long Grove. So this year, the town’s 29th annual Strawberry Fest runs June 21-June 23. Farm fresh berries will be available, and participating shops and restaurants will create berry-themed treats and goodies to savor throughout the weekend. Festgoers will also enjoy live music and family activities, including pie-eating contests.

“Long Grove’s Strawberry Festival is one of the most beloved summer family festivals throughout Illinois,” said Rachel Perkal, president of the Long Grove Business and Community Partners Organization. “Visitors love the mixture of everything strawberry plus the everyday charm of Long Grove’s trendy shops, boutiques, galleries, and restaurants in a beautiful old-world setting of historic buildings, cobblestone walks, colorful gardens, and the landmark covered bridge.”

Settled as a German farming community in the late 1830s, Long Grove is recognized today as one of the nation’s genuine historic villages and a Midwest destination known for its natural beauty and European hospitality.

Here are some of the berry good reasons to come out and enjoy the fest:

The Pear Tree Shoppe, 210 Robert Parker Coffin Road, celebrates the comforts and joy of Christmas year-round, and will look forward to that season with its two distinctive strawberry-shaped ornaments ($8.95-$13.50). More information: (847) 634-0890 or peartreeshoppe.com.

The shop seeks to a bring bit of happiness to every day of the year. “It’s all joyful,” said Susan Zarletti, store manager who says she can never get tired of the celebration. “Whether secular or religious, it’s constantly joyful and upbeat.”

The Long Grove Popcorn Shoppe, 318 Old McHenry Road, will be offering many of its regular sweets in strawberry flavors alongside strawberry and chocolate gourmet popped corn. Owner Karen Levy makes homemade fudge, Hawaiian shaved ice and freshly-spun cotton candy, in addition to some 45 different flavors of gourmet popcorn. She said that the current top-selling popcorn flavor is dill pickle, which was suggested by a customer. She’s happy to have new flavor ideas, so share yours. “I’m always willing to try something new,” she said. More information: (847) 821-9101 or longgrovepopcorn.com.

In Long Grove for seven years, The Olive Tap (240 Robert Parker Coffin Road) owners Kathi Petrocelly and husband Rick have grown their gourmet oil and vinegar business into a nationwide franchise stretching from Colorado to Florida. Their gourmet olive oils are kept fresh and literally on tap in 10, 15 and 25 liter Fusti (stainless steel serving tanks).

For Strawberry Fest, Olive Taps’ artisans will mix up Strawberry Zinfandel balsamic glaze in combination with choice gourmet olive oils ($16.95 per 375 ml bottle-$24.95), sprinkling them over salads and other foods, and offering free tastings. Prices on many items will be reduced up to 10 percent. More information: (847) 478-8741 or theolivetap.com.

The Long Grove Confectionery, (retail store), 220 Robert Parker Coffin Road, has been a stop on the visitor route since 1973. But the Long Grove Confectionery factory offers tours by appointment for groups of 10 to show just how their homemade candies are made. For Strawberry Fest, the Confectionary will feature its superstar treat: ripe, plump and juicy chocolate-covered strawberries ($24/pound). But lest you think it’s all fun and candy, the shop also stocks plenty of savory items, like fat free strawberry salsa ($8.99/16 ounces). More information: (847) 634-0080 or longgrove.com.

Sweet Whimsy Pastry Shop, 251 Robert Parker Coffin Road, is the newest star on the Long Grove map. Owner/pastry chef Tiffany Schuler will be present a crimson array of strawberry-enhanced sweets for the Fest ($1 -$6). Featured will be gluten free French macaroons in strawberry flavor, in addition to a half-dozen staple flavors, like chocolate and pistachio ($1.25 each). More information: (847) 821-2021 or swpastry.com.

Beans & Leaves, 320 Old McHenry Road, will let you see red and more red, with its many strawberry creations, from muffins and shortcake, to smoothies and Italian sodas ($1.60-$4.95). In addition to indulgences like the sweet and tangy strawberry smoothie topped with rich whipped cream ($3.95/small -$4.95/large), the café will offer strawberry-flavored black coffee made from essential oils (not artificial flavors) and wild strawberry ice tea. More information: (847) 821-0011 or beansandleaveslonggrove.com.



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