Suwannee Valley Times is distributed into the following cities and towns: Lake City, Live Oak, Madison, Branford, Dowling Park, Falmouth, Lee, Wellborn, Jasper, White Springs, Fort White, High Springs and Alachua

Everything Strawberry!

Buckler Promotions’ ever popular Strawberry Festival in Live Oak drew visitors from all over the state

L-R: Lianne Zambrana, Cassidy Lear and Chase Layton, all from Lake City, had great fun competing in the strawberry in a spoon contest. Lianne Zambrana ultimately won.
-All SVT Photos by Tami Stevenson

More strawberry in a spoon racers. There was a tie, 2nd from left, Evan Williams from Tallahassee and 3rd from right, Montraio Johnson of Gainesville tied in the race. -SVT Photo

By Tami Stevenson

Buckler Promotions held a jam-packed strawberry festival this last weekend at the Suwannee County Fairgrounds in Live Oak. The annual event drew people from all over the state

that came to enjoy not only everything strawberry, but live music, arts and crafts vendors, and to participate in the many competitions, like the pie eating contests, various strawberry races and other fun-loving competitions that took place throughout each day.

They sold out of the ever popular Plant City strawberries on Saturday, so they picked another truckload and had that ready for Sunday.

One lively and colorful exhibit that stood out at the event was the Cool Zoo. Owner Jim Deberry was holding a live baby alligator for visitors to see while a sloth was nestled in a tree displayed in the booth, with other animals as well.
The seemingly motionless two-toed sloth named Mash, came alive when Jim’s wife, Amy, fed him a carrot. Mash is 1.5 years old and will grow much larger as he gets older. She said although they move slow most of the time, they can actually move very fast when they want to so don’t be fooled by their docile nature.

Jim Deberry explained they do not sell anything during their exhibits. The non-profit zoo was there for education and wildlife advancement purposes. They have two fixed locations, 37+ acres in the Orlando area and 390+ acres in Louisiana. They are animal sanctuaries without bars and stress on their website the animals are not for human amusement but for wildlife advancement, education and scientific research.

Visitors are welcome at the sites by appointment only. Visit them at or call 407-603-6504.

The strawberry in a spoon contest was amusing to watch as contestants carried a spoonful of strawberries about 20 feet or more, from one bowl to another. The first one to fill the other bowl won.

A line of children holding a strawberry in a spoon were all filled with adrenaline pumped smiles, anxious for the race official to say go. Then behind them were three adults all posed to race, waiting their turn after the kids.

It was a tie between the kids’ race as Evan Williams from Tallahassee and Montraio Johnson from Gainesville each filled their bowls at the same time.

During this time, it was obvious the adults were having just as much fun with friendly competitive banter as running the race itself. Chase Layton of Lake City was really ribbing his two female friends, telling them how he was going to win this competition. As the adult race began, Layton was in the lead, then dropped his first strawberry on the ground just before he made it to the bowl. Shrieks of laughter broke out as Lianne Zambrana and Cassidy Lear, also from Lake City, knew their biggest competitor was now lagging behind. Zambrana ultimately won with much cheering. It was a great reminder to onlookers how the little things in life can bring out the child in all of us.

Margaret Buckler, owner of Buckler Promotions, said the strawberries were especially sweet this year and the entire weekend went well. She especially wanted to thank the community for such a great turn-out and wanted to invite everyone back next year.

Air conditioning and pie eating contests kept people in the Coliseum throughout the day to visit the inside vendor booths. -SVT Photo

Sunday crowds at the Strawberry Festival weren’t as thick as Saturday, but they were steady.
-SVT Photo

Ella Stivers, riding the white horse, is from Gainesville and came for the first time with her mother just for the festival and said she had a blast and was glad they came. -SVT Photo

Above: Cool Zoo exhibit. A 1.5 year old sloth named Mash eats a carrot from Amy Deberry.

Cool Zoo Owner Jim Deberry holds a baby alligator and explains a gator starts with 40 teeth and will go through more than 800 teeth throughout its lifetime. -All SVT Photos by Tami Stevenson

Quality pottery offered by Carole Robards of Tallahassee.www. -SVT Photo