The history of our strawberry capital through the eyes of royalt - WPSD Local 6: Your news, weather, and sports authority

The history of our strawberry capital through the eyes of royalty

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PADUCAH -
Strawberries, if you like them, now is the time to buy them. Most farmer's markets can't keep them in stock, including Garrett's Fresh Market in McCracken County. 

"We're very busy, we find ourselves running out throughout the day," says the shop owner's daughter, Mariana Garrett.

Many years ago strawberries were the cash crop around West Kentucky. It all started in the early 1930's. 

"About 13 people decided they we're going to try a new cash crop and so tried this aroma variety strawberry and it seemed to fit neatly into the environment," says Professor emeritus of The University of Kentucky, historian, and author John E. L. Robertson. "We shipped out about $500,000 worth of strawberries across the country and that's 1940 dollars."

Paducah - McCracken County was known as the strawberry capital of the world. The town held an annual strawberry festival and even crowned Sally Stahl Rudolph the strawberry queen of 1940. She was just 18 at the time.

"Well, it was fancy for a country girl," says Sally. 

Sally's father was a strawberry farmer which made her eligible for the contest. Her peers voted her queen and the weekend festival culminated with a parade.

"I got my crown that night, about midnight," says Sally. "It was great fun!"

The festivals were short lived because of World War II. The final festival was celebrated in 1941. But the memories live on through Paducah's flood wall where Sally is prominently displayed as queen. 

John Robertson's book "Paducah, Kentucky: A History (Brief History)" can be found here.
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