Poteet (south of San Antonio) has held a strawberry festival since 1948, has several strawberry monuments around the town, and proudly calls itself the “Strawberry Capital of Texas.”
Handbook of Texas Online
POTEET, TEXAS. Poteet is on Farm Road 476 and State Highway 16, twenty miles south of San Antonio in north central Atascosa County. It was named for its first postmaster, Francis Marion Poteet, who operated the post office out of his blacksmith shop beginning in 1886. The town had a cotton gin, a gristmill, and a wagonmaker in 1892. In 1896 Mr. and Mrs. Henry T. Mumme settled in the area, on land that had been part of the original Joaquín de la Garza land grant, and opened a general store. Mumme succeeded Poteet as postmaster and in 1904 found artesian wells in the area; this ready source of water made the location more attractive to farmers. Apparently his discovery was prompted by a drought in 1902 that ruined that year’s cotton crop. The Poteet community did not really begin to grow until 1910, when the Artesian Belt Railroad passed nearby on land donated by the Mummes. In 1910 the Mummes also donated land for the new townsite, three miles southwest of the original post office, and built a new store there. Mumme began to grow strawberries on the irrigated land in 1911, and strawberries rapidly became one of the town’s major claims to fame. A three-day strawberry festival began in Poteet in 1948 and during the early 1990s was still being held there each year. Also in 1911 Mumme established the Poteet Coal and Sand Company Mine, but water seeped into the shaft in 1912, making the mining process prohibitively expensive. The town continued to be a center of commerce for area farmers, whose major source of income was the irrigation farming of peanuts, onions, and watermelons, in addition to the famous strawberries.
Located in the heart of the Artesian Belt, Poteet is recognized as the “Strawberry Capital of Texas”. No doubt, Henry and Ida Mumme, the city’s founders, would be amazed to see what acclaim is now attached to the crop which started as a few rows in Mumme’s kitchen garden.
The first year of marketing Poteet strawberries proved very successful and strawberries sold for $20….that’s more than they sell for on today’s market. In 1921 a group of Poteet citizens invited guests from San Antonio to partake in its newfound delicacies. Headlines in the San Antonio Express read, “Crimson Berries Beckon Hungry Tourists to Poteet.” The Poteet Rotary Club continued the tradition when it organized the 1st Annual Poteet Strawberry Festival in 1948.
The Poteet Strawberry Festival Association will celebrate the 60th Annual Poteet Strawberry Festival on April 13, 14 & 15, 2007. Since the annual event draws crowds in excess of 100,000, the demand for Poteet strawberries is greater than the supply. Unfortunately, outside strawberry markets move into the Poteet area to take advantage of the crowds. The Association has no control of vendors outside the Festival Grounds. However, to assure that our guests are getting the genuine articles, all local berries will be in newly designed boxes which states “Fresh Produce-Poteet, Texas” during Festival Weekend. The Poteet growers are also offered locations on the Festival Grounds to sell their berries.
There are four reasons to visit Poteet. The first is the Poteet Strawberry Festival, held every spring. The other three, children of the first, are a triple helping of oversized strawberry monuments.
18 May 1958, Dallas Morning News, part 2, pg. 9 photo caption:
Winnsboro, Texas, which claims the title of “Strawberry Capital of Texas,” offers the above evidence. Shown with a basket of the lush fruit is another home-grown product, Miss Nancy Mason of Winnsboro, who is “Miss Straw-ber-ree” of 1958.
12 May 1967, Fresno (CA) Bee, pg. 9C:
FAMOUS “Poteet” strawberries—12 plants, $3. Free book “How to plant-grow them” shipped direct for Poteet, Texas, strawberry capital of Texas.
17 May 1967, Dallas Morning News, “Old Man Poteet Of Poteet Town” by Frank X. Tolbert, section D, pg. 1:
And there was a big Sunday color splash May 7 in which Caniff accurately drew scenes in the Atascosa County community, which styles itself “The Strawberry Capital of Texas.”