When I read about the Alva Strawberry Festival in last week’s paper, I thought it would be fun to attend, and while there, take a meal at the Alva Diner. Alva, with a population of just over 2000 people, is more than double the size of my home town and the atmosphere reminded me a lot of home.
The drive out on highway 78 took us through farmland (cattle grazing alongside their calves) and a regional park. When I attend festivals in the Midwest, I usually see a big sign announcing it–Centerville’s Archway Days, or the Wharton Festival. But we drove all the way through Alva and found ourselves wondering if we had the wrong day.On the second pass through town, however, we noticed a lot of cars parked on a side street. This must be it!
After parking the car, we followed others on their way to the Alva Library Museum. I was blown away by the line. Were all these people waiting to tour the museum? Or to buy berries? I hate standing in lines, so I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay.
Fortunately, the long line turned out to be for people wanting to buy strawberry shortcake. The shorter line to the left, was for people wishing to buy strawberries. And if you wanted to visit the library museum, you could walk right in. The berries taste every bit as good as they look.
This little library’s origins are quite similar to its counterparts in the Midwest. It started out as a book club founded by Esther Hovey, and grew into a the first public library in southwest Florida.
The building dates to 1909, although I believe the library was chartered several years earlier. Directly behind the library museum stands a Methodist chapel dating to 1901.
It’s pretty easy it is to recognize church architecture, don’t you think?
Finally, time to check out the diner, where the menu boasts of serving the world’s best broasted chicken. I’ve had some pretty good broasted chicken back home in Wyandot County, but I must confess, it is hard to beat what I ate today at the Alva Diner. We got there early, before 11:30, but there was still a 25 minute wait to be seated. It was worth the wait. Steaming hot, crispy, tender chicken. Absolutely delicious!
And now, time for some strawberry shortcake!