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      Preparing for the Chassell Strawberry Festival

      The 2013 Copper Country Strawberry Festival will be held Friday and Saturday, July 12 and 13, in Chassell. The event is also known as the Chassell Strawberry Festival.

      Henry Ohtonen has been farming since he was a child. His farm has been in his family since the 1920s, and Ohtonen has been growing strawberries for more than 40 years.

      He says as soon as he began growing strawberries, he's been involved in the Chassell Strawberry Festival. "This is ideal berry country right here," said Ohtonen. "You have good air drainage, and you don't have a frost problem."

      Chassell's strawberry festival started in 1949 after strawberry farming became an important part of the area's economy. The annual festival includes a parade, queen coronation, contests, and lots of berries.

      "They have largest berries by the quart, you know, but if you're just on your show berries, there should be uniformity and size and color and that," Ohtonen explained.

      Each field at the Ohtonen Farm starts off with about 21,000 plants, and over the course of the summer, that number triples in size. Out of all of those strawberries, the Ohtonens contribute about 800 quarts for the strawberry festival.

      "There's lots of money that changes hands out in Chassell," Ohtonen added. "There's vendors galore down there, parades for the kids, so it's a good time for everybody."

      Ohtonen said although he hasn't started picking his berries for the festival quite yet, there will be plenty to go around.

      "There's going to be lots of strawberries this year, so people don't have to worry about that," he said.