STORY BY ELISABETH ALTAMIRANO-SMITH
For the first time in history, Chilton County has added a Strawberry Festival to its agricultural heritage. Strawberry season 2022 was a fruitful year for Chilton County farmers, which had a large fruit production that has lasted from early spring until June. In April, strawberry season had its kick-off with a well-attended Strawberry Festival at Richard Wood Park in Thorsby. Among the faces in the crowd, were the newly crowned Strawberry Queens. Miss Strawberry Starr Woods, with the help of her queen sisters, will spend a year visiting Alabama officials and attending state events to bring awareness to the sweet abundance that Chilton County agriculture offers.
“The Strawberry Festival benefits our county,” Woods said. “It helps our farmers and brings money into the community. Thorsby has historically been known for its strawberry production. The first train cart of strawberries hauled in Alabama was loaded in Thorsby.”
This year, Woods, along with her strawberry sisters, will meet with Gov. Kay Ivey, visit strawberry farms to learn more about production, visit the Gulf Coast, Peach events and local parades.
The Strawberry queens have already participated in the 2022 Chilton County Relay For Life.
Woods, age 17, is a senior at Verbena High School where she participates in cheer, softball, basketball and color guard. She is described by friends as “active, fun and outgoing.” Outside of school, she enjoys swimming, inner tubing on the river, riding Jet skis, drawing nature scenes, listening to country music and learning about cosmetology.
“I like to meet new people and love getting dressed up; doing hair and make-up,” said Woods.
During the school year, Woods is in the cosmetology program at LeCroy Career Tech Center.
At the end of her reign as Miss Strawberry, Woods will receive a $1,000 scholarship, which will go to the school of her choice. She plans to use the money to further her education in cosmetology at the Mitchell
School of Cosmetology in Alabaster and use her cosmetology income to help pay her way through veterinary school.
As Chilton County’s first Strawberry Queen, Woods would like to leave a lasting impression on the young people she meets.
“I am one of 10 children,” she said. “My siblings’ age ranges from one to 22 years old. I am in the middle of those age groups, and as a middle child, I think it is perfect. I have older siblings that I can look up to and younger siblings that I can help. As Strawberry Queen, I want to be a big sister and role model in the same way that I am to my younger siblings. I want to be someone that children can look up to, especially my younger queen sisters.”
Woods said of the role models in her life, her mother has made the biggest impression.
“As a single mom, she has worked hard to help us achieve what we want and need,” said Woods. “I see her doing it all by herself, and I think to myself — ‘if you can do it, so can I.”