Strawberries on the Square is going back to its roots — and it’s going to be sweet.

The longtime Franklin tradition is moving back to the courthouse lawn after a two-year hiatus, and organizers have planned an event that’s bigger and better than before.

People can enjoy a day of live music and food trucks while downtown businesses open their doors with special sales and other enticing events.

And of course, volunteers will be serving up more than 5,000 servings of strawberry shortcake Friday for as long as supplies last.

“The way I look at this event is, it’s a great kickoff to the summer in downtown. Weather permitting it’s always such a fun day; everyone is in such a great mood,” said Danny Causey, executive director of Discover Downtown Franklin. “We have one of the most beautiful courthouses in the country, and it really shows off our downtown.”

This is the 20th year Discover Downtown Franklin has offered Strawberries on the Square as a fundraiser supporting downtown businesses. For nearly its entire existence, people flocked to the courthouse lawn where thousands of servings of sticky-sweet strawberry shortcakes were doled out.

Lines stretched down Jefferson Street, and it was common for strawberries to run out in a few hours. Last year, more than 7,500 attended, Causey said.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser, which is very important, because as the Main Street group (for Franklin), we need to raise funds so we can do all of our shopping events like Love Local and the Downtown Holiday Open House,” he said. “A lot of these fundraisers we use for all of the promotion of our downtown businesses.”

That excitement is what made Strawberries on the Square such a special community event, Causey said. But it also limited the impact and participation.

“This event has become so successful, and there were times when I’d get off work at 5 p.m., and it would already be sold out,” he said. “It’s a great problem, but I wanted to make it so everybody could come down, even if they work during the day. I want everybody to come downtown and enjoy it.”

The centerpiece of the day will again be strawberry shortcake. After moving the event to the Amphitheater at Youngs Creek Park in 2022 and 2023, organizers decided to come back to the courthouse square, Causey said.

“When I became director of Discover Downtown Franklin, the main thing I heard from people around town was, ‘You have to move Strawberries back to the courthouse.’ And I agreed,” he said. “There’s something special about being on the courthouse square.”

A small army of volunteers will cut and prepare about 1,200 pounds of strawberries, then help serve them to hungry local residents. Servings will be $6 if paying by cash, and $6.25 if paying by credit.

“There’s no entry fee to the event, so if people don’t want strawberries, they’re welcome to come down and check out our sponsor tents and food vendors and enjoy some live music,” Causey said.

To help increase engagement, organizers have worked with other businesses and attractions to make a day-long event. Music will be ongoing throughout the afternoon, kicked off by a performance by Circle City Steel, an island-themed tropical steel drum band.

Swingin’ country group Hank Haggard and singer-songwriter Kit Haymond will take the stage throughout the day, with jammy guitarist Steve Smith holding down the evening slot.

Entertainment winds down from 7 to 9 p.m., when the Barnstormers fill downtown with the sounds of blues, funk, soul and Motown.

“We’ve enlarged everything. We’ve added more live music than ever before. Typically in the past, they’ve had a couple of musicians during the day, but we’ve set it up so that there’s constant music,” Causey said.

Downtown shops have planned special strawberry-themed offerings in their stores, while others, such as the block of vintage stores on East Jefferson Street, are offering outdoor vendors, sidewalk sales and more.

Organizers are encouraging people to frequent the wide variety of restaurants and eateries during their time downtown, Causey said. But to accommodate the anticipated crowds, food trucks will be set up on West Court Street, including Jones Kettle Corn, the Legendary Kitchen, Chomp’z Truck, the Oriental Cooker, Lainey’s Watering Trough, Cast Iron Grill and My Super Taqueria.

“We are trying really hard to make sure our events don’t affect local businesses, so we decided not to close East Court Street. That street will be open for business as usual,” Causey said. “But on West Court Street, we’ll have some food vendors lining the sidewalk.”

At the Historic Artcraft Theatre, screenings of 1934 romantic-comedy “Imitation of Life” at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Outside the theater, starting at 5 p.m., the Franklin Cruisers will host a classic car cruise-in, with some of the area’s coolest cars on display for the public.

“I want people to come downtown and stay downtown. My hope is for people to come down, get some strawberries, see one of the first bands, do some shopping, get some food at one of the restaurants and come back and check out the other bands,” Causey said. “I don’t want this to only be a fundraiser for Discover Downtown Franklin, I want this to be a fundraiser for all of downtown.”


Strawberries on the Square

What: Discover Downtown Franklin’s annual fundraising event will feature strawberries, shortcake and ice cream, in addition to food trucks, a classic car cruise-in and live music all day.

When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; in the case of inclement weather, the event will be Saturday

Where: Johnson County courthouse lawn


11 a.m.: Strawberry serving begins on the courthouse lawn; food vendors open; live music by Circle City Steel

1-3 p.m.: Live music by Hank Haggard

2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.: “Imitation of Life” at the Historic Artcraft Theater, 57 N. Main St.

3-5 p.m.: Live music by Kit Haymond

5 p.m.: Classic car cruise-in along North Main Street

5-7 p.m.: Live music by Steve Smith

7-9 p.m.: Live music by the Barnstormers

More information: