The 2021 Strawberry Festival Rundown

The Strawberry Festival started up again, and, knowing it would be smaller than usual, I set what I thought to be a reasonable goal- eat a strawberry. 

Our quest begins in my backyard.

The Strawberry Festival kicked off with a parade, which conveniently passed by my house. We went out with lawn chairs and Otter Pops to watch the cars roll by. There were trucks with balloons and goats, lots of old-timey cars, as well as the mail truck, which I think just got stuck in the parade, but we cheered them on anyway. 

Some cars tossed out candy. We figured the pink candy would be strawberry flavored, but were quite surprised when we tried it and it was as if the cinnamon factory, cologne factory, and the hard candy factory had merged.

Following up the parade were a bunch of cars that probably missed their ferry.

I missed the Old Tractors, which usually are part of the parade, but I don’t think they could manage a ten mile loop. Maybe next year. 

After the parade, we made our way into town, parking south of Cathy’s Corner and walking in, picking blackberries along the way and promising the kids that we were indeed almost there yet. They insisted I shouldn’t eat blackberries because it’s the Strawberry Festival, not the Blackberry Festival. They’re always coming up with reasons why I shouldn’t forage by the side of the road. 

The long walk made us hungry, so we stopped into Island Queen to get a quick bite. We soon left with our bag of chicken and fries and headed to the Farmer’s Market, in the hopes of getting some Strawberries. It was past 2:00 at this point so they were closing up, but I did manage to buy out the last pint of blueberries. 

Then I pet someone’s dog.

We eventually finished our picnic and decided to keep going south to see if there were any kid activities. The kids remembered the thing from two years ago where you get into a bubble and float in water. We went searching for it, to no avail.

On our way back from the end of the closed block, we stopped at our neighbor’s shop to chitchat. We talked about our pets. (In some societies people greet each other by asking, “How are you?” In others they ask, “Have you eaten yet?” On Vashon we ask, “How are your animals doing?”) 

A Strawberry outside Lost and Found. (We didn’t eat it.)

When the shop got busy, we continued our quest to eat a strawberry at the Strawberry Festival. We found a beautiful bright red mini-bus, and stopped to check it out. It was a bookmobile, converted from a Japanese fire truck. (They must have the most adorable little fires in Japan. I don’t think this bus would be able to put out the fire I cause when I burn toast.) The kids played a ladder toss game where they threw balls on a string at a ladder, sometimes hitting the ladder, sometimes missing and nearly taking down a passing biker. 

Now the kids were thirsty and wanted lemonade, so we stopped at Snapdragon and squeezed into the shady quarter of a picnic table. Opal tried a lemon Oranciata, but wasn’t into the bubbles, so I drank it for her. Mike then thought to go to the bar to buy Opal a virgin lemonade. This was too sour for her, so I drank most of it.

It turns out that Snapdragon had trays of Strawberry danishes that, in my lemonade-lust, I didn’t notice. I deeply regret not eating these. Luckily, they’ll be making more throughout the week, so I still have an opportunity to gorge myself on them.

I call dibs.

We listened to a few songs, but then we were antsy to get on our way to Mukai Farm and participate in all the kid activities there (and hopefully find a bathroom). We walked toward IGA, spotted Lucky the Duck in a stroller, then got tired of walking and headed to the car. 

Along the way, we heard Star Anna’s mic check. 

Mukai Farm did indeed have kids’ activities. We pet some bunnies. We took more than our fair share of free lavender. (They told us not to worry about the bees on the lavender. Lavender has a calming effect on all animals, including bees, so the super chill bees probably wouldn’t sting us.) Opal got a hold of a balloon that came off a sign and batted it around with her lavender. The bees didn’t seem to mind. 

We bought strawberry shortcake, which was vanilla ice cream covered in a strawberry purée. It was pretty good, but I wouldn’t count it as an actual strawberry. 

Opal then wanted to “Play the game.” I led her to the corn hole and the kiddie pool fishing pool, but she insisted those were not “the game.” Eventually she pointed at the volleyball net and badminton rackets. 

Here is a 100% true fact: I was on the varsity badminton team in high school. I also have a degree in teaching, so you’d think, combining these two things, that I could teach my children how to play badminton. I regret to inform you, I have had no luck in this regard.

So we all get the rackets and start hitting the birdies around. The thing about badminton is that lining up the birdie with the racket is weirdly hard to do. So Iduna took to wailing on the bird like she was wielding a baseball bat, and Opal just threw the birdie. But Mike and I managed to get a few volleys in until the wind picked up and started dropping our birdies on the heads of other people’s children. 

We had promised the kids a labyrinth at Mukai Farm, but it turns out that’s not opening until fall. The workers there recommended a lovely path along the pond to walk instead. Turns out the path takes all of 30 seconds to walk. After that we got our pictures taken with the Strawberry who was running for mayor. 

Future mayor?

By then we were all exhausted and needed to go home, even though we hadn’t eaten a proper strawberry. 

When we parked in our driveway, I realized that Opal’s lemonade from Snapdragon that had been sitting in the cup holder of our car for half the afternoon had a few slices of strawberry at the bottom. I fished them out with the disintegrating paper straw and ate them. They were sour from soaking in lemonade for hours, but I’d say it counts. Parked in my car in the driveway, I managed to eat a strawberry. 

On Saturday evening, Penny the Goat was declared unofficial mayor. She had raised over $10,000 for the Old Goats Home and Rescue. The other unofficial mayor candidates, The Marshal Strawberry for Mukai Farm, Lucky the Duck for the Food Bank, Kim for Viga and Charlie the Dog for Vashon Household, raised tens of thousands for their organizations.

On Sunday Opal and I returned to the Strawberry Festival. On the way in, we passed up the Old-Timey Car Show (not the official name) at the VCA. From our place of comfort in our air conditioned car, we looked out the window at the cool old cars. Lucky for us, after the show, the cars toodled their way into town and we saw them parked in front of Herban Bloom. 

We shared a slice of pizza and walked to the park. Without booths, there wasn’t much to see or do besides draw with chalk on the ground and pet strangers’ dogs. On our way back from the park, we brought more pizza home for dinner. And so the Strawberry Festival ended.

I later heard that the Thriftway Shopping Cart Drill Team did a pop-up performance in town, which I sadly missed. I did catch the pop-up belly dancers, though. And of course there were hours and hours of music, of which I heard only a little because it was loud and hot and the kids were thirsty. 

All in all, it was a pretty good festival, considering the necessary limitations. We ran into people we knew, we pet lots of dogs, we saw a duck in a stroller, and we even heard some music. We missed the previous years’ booths and art and participating in the children’s parade. The kids missed the giant slides, but I can’t say that I look back fondly on standing in the hot sun watching my children bounce down a two-story inflatable slide into a gravel parking lot. 

On Sunday night, someone was driving around my neighborhood blaring the theme song to Reading Rainbow, and I kinda suspect it was the bookmobile having one last Strawberry Festival hurrah. 

Many thanks to everyone who organized the festival, played music, drove in the parade, ran for unofficial mayor, worked in the very busy shops and restaurants, or showed up with their cute dogs. 

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

17 thoughts on “The 2021 Strawberry Festival Rundown”

  1. Thankyou Anna!. I love your perspective and style and family. Too bad you missed the strawberries from Solaria farms. There was a stand next to Ruby Brink! The strawberries were huge and delicious!

  2. I laughed out loud multiple times while reading this. PH must have a yeast infection or something because they have no sense of humor lol. Nicely done and so accurate Anna!!

    1. I love your reply. It’s true that when your pH becomes too alkaline, it is easier to develop a yeast infection.

    1. The reply is horribly written, unnecessarily critical, and never funny. The author should move to Bainbridge.

  3. Reading your synopsis I felt I was almost there with you. We didn’t attend this year. Hopefully next!

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