VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Pungo Strawberry Festival will not be held in 2023.
Festival organizers told WTKR they were not able to secure land use agreements needed for parking.
Organizers said it means they cannot use the land needed to park a large number of cars, and there are some private landowners who no longer wanted to participate.
"We have explored other sites but have not found a suitable location for a festival our size," an organizer said. "We will continue to work with city leadership and private stakeholders and attempt to bring the festival back in the future."
The executive board of the festival released the following statement regarding this year's cancellation:
Today, the Executive Board of the Pungo Strawberry Festival is announcing that the 2023 festival has been cancelled. We were unable to secure the land-use agreements we needed to host our festival in the manner to which we are all accustomed. Without sufficient parking we could not develop a traffic plan to get patrons into and out of the Pungo area quickly and safely. For these reasons we decided to cancel this year. We worked with city leadership and private venues to find a suitable location close to the Pungo area, but those attempts were unsuccessful.
We appreciate those with the City of Virginia Beach who have helped us over the many years. We could not put this festival together year after year without the city's support and sponsorship.
Thank you to all who have supported the Pungo Strawberry Festival for 37 years and will continue to do so going forward. We are committed to working with all stakeholders to see if we can revive the festival in the future.
This is the fourth year in a row that the festival has been canceled.
In 2022, it was canceled due to "unforeseen circumstances." Organizers canceled the 2020 and 2021's festivals due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Pungo Strawberry Festival is a nonprofit organization staffed by volunteers. Since it began in 1984, its attendance has grown to more than 80,000 attendees.
EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews