Pungo Strawberry Festival canceled for 5th year, but Mayor Dyer has an idea that could bring it back

The Pungo Strawberry Festival has been canceled for a fifth year, organizers announced Monday evening.

The board of directors posted to Facebook that the festival is on hiatus until a new team is assembled. A new venue for the festival is needed as well, they said.

“We have been a casualty of our own success, and we are proud to have organized 36 years of a beloved, legacy festival in downtown Pungo with the support of the community and the city,” the post reads.

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Last year, the festival was canceled for similar concerns. Traditionally held over a three-day weekend at the end of May along a two-lane road in the southern part of the city, the festival relied heavily on private property for its popular carnival rides and for parking. Residents told The Virginian-Pilot last year that the festival was a “traffic headache” for neighbors.

During a break at the City Council retreat Tuesday, Mayor Bobby Dyer said he’d like to see the festival find a new home in 2025 at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex, a large outdoor venue on Landstown Centre Way.

“I’m going to lobby for that,” Dyer said.

The festival featured live entertainment, military tributes, pig races, pony rides, 4-H exhibits, a petting zoo and youth art exhibits. It was funded by carnival ticket sales, donations, and vendor and parking fees. Excess proceeds were given back to the community for college scholarships for local students and donations to nonprofit groups.

David Trimmer, the city’s director of agriculture, also said the Sportsplex could be a possibility with overflow parking at the Virginia Beach Amphitheater, but that would depend on the venue’s schedule. And given that the Strawberry Festival has traditionally been held Memorial Day weekend, it could be a challenge with it being a popular weekend for concerts kicking off the summer season, Trimmer said.

Eliza Noe, eliza.noe@virginiamedia.com

Stacy Parker, stacy.parker@virginiamedia.com