The Strawberry Fare was a colossal success last Saturday. The two squares in the town centre were filled with people shopping at 278 stalls, enjoying entertainers such as Wonky Donkey author and singer Craig Smith, and devouring the luscious red fruit in many forms.

The fare has become Waimate's biggest drawcard since local berry-grower Jackie Butler instigated it 34 years ago.

Mrs Butler said there were anxious days before Saturday, wondering if there would be enough ripe strawberries. The staff at Butler's Berry Farm put in a big spurt to fill the punnets in time.

''The pickers were great; they always respond,'' Mrs Butler said.

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Raspberries have also started to ripen, although more sunshine was needed to create the sweetest taste in both types of berry, she said. The raspberries looked to be cropping heavily this year.

Meanwhile, Mrs Butler and her husband, Donald, are disappointed with the lack of response to their business being put on the market.

''The notices are still up. We hope someone comes along. It just has to be the right person.''

She also hoped the buyer would want to continue the long tradition of growing berries there, where the climate was especially suitable.

Central Rural Life