The Grand Champion winner at the 70th Annual Poteet Strawberry Festival was third generation farmer Leonard Sanchez Jr. The winning crate of Albion berries brought $16,050 at the festival auction on Saturday, April 8. This breaks last years record of $15,000 set by longtime Poteet strawberry grower Albert Reyes.
55-year-old Sanchez has been in the strawberry business almost since birth. In fact, his father, Leonard Sanchez Sr. won the Grand Champion and Reserve Champion in 1962 when Sanchez Jr was just three and a half months old. Though he has placed in the auction before this is the first time he was taken a champion placement. Sanchez, who still farms on the family land has a variety of berries in his fields. He not only grows the variety he was awarded for, but also Sweet Anne’s, Merced and has added Ruby June just this year.
Mr. Sanchez not only farms strawberries, but vegetables such as squash, tomatoes and cucumbers. He raises cattle as well. His three brothers and sister are not farmers they still show up to help come strawberry picking time. He says it takes about 21 days from their white bloom to be ready to pick. He said this year the season started early with the warmer weather and they will probably still have berries up until mid-late May.People come from all across the state to purchase the luscious Poteet strawberries. He has chefs in San Antonio who order, and even someone who travels from Corpus each Wednesday. He sets up shop at the Poteet Dairy Queen anywhere from 1-3 p.m. and on weekends starting at 10 a.m.