Annual shortcake sale draws hundreds to downtown Houlton

3 weeks ago

HOULTON, Maine – Strawberry shortcake lovers can’t resist the whipped mounds of Houlton Farms Dairy heavy cream atop sliced fresh strawberries and homemade biscuits that arrive each July for the Houlton Strawberry Shortcake Sale. 

And on Tuesday morning some aficionados were waiting two hours ahead of the noon sale in Houlton’s historic Market Square, said organizer Jane Torres, executive director of the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce. 

“We buy our cream from Houlton Farms Dairy in gallon jugs and it’s so rich. I make my own vanilla and add a  little confectioner’s sugar,” she explained. “It’s wonderful and it has a following.”

The Strawberry Shortcake sale is an annual precursor to Wednesday’s Midnight Madness, a street fair that draws close to 8,000 each year. 

By 1 p.m., just over an hour into the sale, they had sold more than 650, Torres estimated. 

In preparation, planners sliced about 220 pounds of fresh strawberries, whipped up gallons of heavy cream and baked nearly 800 biscuits. 

But what makes the strawberry shortcake sale such a big draw is the whipped cream, Torres said.

HOULTON, Maine — July 2, 2024 — About halfway through Houlton’s annual strawberry shortcake sale on Tuesday volunteers had already sold 650. Gateway Ambassadors Cis Rhoda, right and Paula Woodworth prepare a to-go order.   (Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli | Houlton Pioneer Times)

Some businesses order 25 or more ahead of time for their employees, she said. 

“We had a variety of people,” said Houlton Gateway Ambassador Paula Woodoworth who was working the sale. “A lot of people grew up here and are back for the Fourth of July.”

The Fourth of July is a week-long event in Houlton, kicked off by the Strawberry Shortcake sale and followed by the annual street fair and fireworks on July 3, the July 4 parade on Thursday along with more fireworks at the rec center and a town craft fair on Saturday, July 6. 

Good weather is predicted for Midnight Madness  and planners expect larger than normal crowds for the annual July 3 event. 

The Strawberry Shortcake Sale was once part of Midnight Madness, but because of its growing popularity, planners moved it to the day before. 

This year’s Midnight Madness theme is Hollywood and Torres said she hopes some people decide to dress the part.  

There will be three bands this year, the event opening with Star City Syndicate, 20-piece band Northern Maine motown and contemporary band starting at 4:30 p.m., McGill’s Community Band at 7 p.m. and Highway 207 at 8 p.m. 

Following the downtown fireworks, the Temple Theater is hosting The Karaoke Showdown,  slated for 10 p.m.