Indiana pie store owner saves Kokomo’s strawberry festival with drive to Michigan

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KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — A central Indiana pie shop owner has saved an annual strawberry festival by driving to Michigan to pick up two tons of strawberries after a California vendor failed to deliver the festival fruit.

Kokomo’s Strawberry Festival had no berries just days before Friday’s festival.

But Greg Lucas, owner of Moore’s Pie Shop, came to the rescue. He’s ordered the festival’s strawberries for 13 years and quickly found another strawberry vendor, in Niles, Michigan. A California vendor couldn’t deliver this year because of a difficult growing year for strawberries in the state, according to the Kokomo  Tribune. Lucas didn’t find out until it was almost too late.

After locating the vendor in Michigan, Lucas found out the strawberries wouldn’t be delivered on time using traditional shipping methods. So he rented a truck, hit the road and returned Wednesday with more than 4,000 pounds of frozen strawberries after stopping at two locations in Michigan.

Volunteers helped him unload the strawberries, including some from the local Army recruiting office and personnel from the Kokomo Parks & Recreation Department.

Greater Kokomo Downtown Association Manager Susan Alexander says the festival is indebted to Lucas “for going so far above and beyond to help the community celebrate summer.”

Organizers said the festival served up more than 7,000 strawberry shortcakes last year.

The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday in downtown Kokomo.