Only on Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 07/16/2023

Let’s all start by learning something new. An islander posts this picture of a tomato, which resembles what my brain looks like after reading all the posts and comments in the Rants group. 

An islander explained why the tomato looks the way it does: “Fasciated blossom – when multiple blossoms fuse into one, making a monster, cat-faced tomato that’s actually made up of several fused tomatoes! That’s why it’s so massive. They tend to ripen unevenly, and sometimes rot in the crevices or on the riper parts. It happens more early in the season, and more often with certain (often heirloom) varieties, I believe. This is a really gnarly one!”

And now that we’ve learned something cool and exciting, let’s get mad about something. 

We’ll start by being mad at the festival. One person says, “The festival feels overridden with snooty Californians this year… Come on’ out Vashon old hippies and hillbilly’s! Git over there! We need you!” 

The responses are that locals have always avoided the festival, as it is a tourist trap, and others say they’ve stopped attending recently because of what it has become. 

There’s debate about whether it should be “by Vashon for Vashon.” Some want to expand it beyond our community because we have all the same businesses year-round, and it would be nice to have some new stuff to experience. Some like having it just be Vashon, on account that anyone coming in from off-island is probably from California, likely here to sabotage our island way of life, and thus highly suspect. 

I’ve heard that this year is again ‘by Vashon for Vashon,’ but I swear I never noticed any store selling giant inflatable hammers or furry Picachu hats until the booths popped up this weekend.

Maybe it’s for the best that they don’t sell these every day. 

Others note that the Pancake breakfast didn’t happen this year, “It’s just a music fest. No more pancake breakfast either, which most people on the island these days, didn’t even know that existed. Great weekend to stay home and avoid people. 😏

I like how they think we new people haven’t heard of a thing that happened every year up through last year. Also, the Pancake Breakfast is put on by The Sportsmen’s Club, not the Chamber, so if they’re missing a year it’s likely that there weren’t enough people available to organize and host it. 

One person posts, “I keep trying but I can’t find anything to really hate. The parade was smaller and sloppier, but just as endearing as usual. The music has been fun with a really diverse crowd, age-wise. There’s no carnies or pancake breakfast, but we did just come out of a hell of a crisis. So far, I like it.”

They make a good point. The last few years have been traumatic for many, have led to huge shake-ups in people’s lives, and have caused so much illness, disability, and death. Lots of people can’t jump back into the level of volunteering and organizing they had done before. 

But it’s true that the Strawberry Festival needs way more carnies. If you go to a carnival and don’t ditch it to smoke by the railroad tracks with a guy wearing a leather vest over his bare chest who’s spent his life turning the rusty screws on 60-year-old Ferris Wheels that he assembles and disassembles every four days, then what are you even doing with your life? 

My family and I went to the Festival Friday night, and we got to meet some candidates for mayor. 

We did our solemn duty as patriotic Americans: used  money to sway an election. Despite being photographed with the goat, my daughter actually voted twice for the little dog with the short legs and long nose. I taught her that an important aspect of democracy is voting for the cutest candidate. 

We also stopped by the parade, where we saw the greatest of all floats: 

At the parade, we got the answer to an age-old question, one first posed by the Sphinx: How would a dog wear pants?

The best part of the parade for me was sitting on the ground, which put me at the perfect level to catch tossed candy and get sniffed by every passing dog. There were a lot of good dogs. 

This year the Pharmacy marched, and I was hoping they’d toss pills into the crowd, but unfortunately, they only had candy. 

And nothing says Vashon quite like a cowboy shooting an alien point blank, which we see here on a truck representing a local summer camp. 

You know how everyone, no matter how reasonable they are, has one really out there opinion that makes you question everything you’ve ever thought about their sanity? Like how totally chill people will spill that they believe in chemtrails or support Tulsi Gabbard or something?

In my case, my one totally out-there opinion is that I 100% believe aliens are real. The Maury Island Incident happened. And it’s pictures like the one on this truck that stop the aliens from coming down and visiting. That and the nuclear weapons. 

But back to the festival, We also had this lovely orca whale float: 

Okay, I also have one more insane opinion, which is that the orca whales know humans are the ones destroying the Earth and they’re trying to tell us not to. Remember that whale whose baby died and she carried it for 17 days? You know all those whales in the Strait of Gibraltar taking down boats by ramming their rudders? They’re sending us a message. 

And no wonder they’re upset with us. According to this poster, there are only 73 Southern Residents left!

And speaking of wild opinions, we have someone posting three times a day in the Rants group about the Fire Levy. There are reasons to either support or oppose the levy, and either position is reasonable, so I take no issue with the person voting No. I do, however, find the tenor and wording of their posts, getting ever more frantic and unhinged, to be kind of amusing. 

The first posts were lists of issues, but later ones devolved into a stream of consciousness, involving ideas such as, “I say that any boob can take and put an X on a ballot and shove the ballot in a voting box. And they call that sloth. The first big step on the road To the depths of deg-ra-day-shun.” 

Eventually, they evolved into end-of-the-word prognosticating. Take the most recent post, which included this borderline sacrilegious image of Moses coming down the mount with the ten commandments. 

Ok, I have questions.

What does Moses have to do with the fire Levy? Is it because the bush burned for hours without catching anything else on fire, a symbol that we don’t need to fully staff the Burton Fire Station? 

But back to the Strawberry Festival. There were loads of places with chalk, so we took the time to draw our family crest.

And yes, it took me three tries to get the S to face the right direction, but I think our family crest would feature crossed-off and edited-out mistakes. 

I hope you all had a good time at the festival or a good time avoiding the festival. And if you missed it because you were stuck in the ferry line behind a parked car, you can come to First Friday in September, when the street will be shut down and the Stupid Bikes will ride. 

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.

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