Shelley Matherne is at the center of a firestorm. Ms. Matherne is the public relations representative for the 2015 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival which has somehow ended up at ground zero for contemporary race discussions in Louisiana.
Because of the poster created by artist Kalle Siekkinen for the event.
As you can see, the poster depicts two Black children wearing all white garb and perhaps preparing to feast on some delicious Ponchatoula strawberries.
Read into it what you will.
Tremble with outrage or tremble with outrage that anyone could be outraged.
Either way there’s no getting around the fact that the Louisiana Strawberry and Marketing Board will be having some sleepless nights ahead.
The 2015 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival is to be held the weekend of April 10th.
There will be dozens of vendors trotting out all manners of strawberry related foodstuffs. I’ll keep an eagle eye out for heirloom varietals like Daybreak, Tangi or Headliner but I won’t be holding my breath.
Strawberries have been big business on the North Shore since the late 1800s when Italian farmers began the commercial cultivation of the delicious fruit. Back then there were thousands of acres devoted to the industry, nowadays there are only a few hundred.
With the prevalence, and easy availability of Driscoll strawberries from Mexico and California, the Louisiana varietals have been pushed aside.
Except for one glorious weekend in April when folks gather from all over the state in Ponchatoula to eat, drink, listen to live music and this year, have some intense discourse on the modern state of race relations in Louisiana.