Only on Vashon- The Weekly Rundown 07/22/2022

This week we got mad at the Strawberry Festival. There was a thread with 330 comments and counting. 

It starts like this:  “Bring back the venders and carnival. Make it a real festival rather then a drink/music fest. I’m saddened for all the kids and islanders that haven’t ever got to experience a real vashon strawberry festival” (sic)

We often bemoan that Vashon is not like it was when we were kids. We used to have sketchy carnival rides that brought you to the brink of death, and now all we have are bouncy houses. 

Despite the cost, the fact that it’s voluneeer run, and a raging pandemic, many feel there should have been carnival rides. One person links to a place called Clowns Unlimited, which is billed as the best place to rent your carnival equipment. When I think of idyllic childhood experiences, the last thing that comes to mind is a chasm endlessly spouting clowns. 

One commenter advises, “If you do manage to find a carnival company, please make sure the rides aren’t held together with bungee cords like in the old days and the carnival workers have passed background checks because there were some pretty iffy characters in charge of spinning around your kids back then!”

That leads to this reminiscence: “Anyone remember the year the ring of fire got stuck upside down ……. Lol 😂😂😂😂

Others want elephant ears. “I want the crappy food! 😂 🤷‍♀️” says one islander. We need cotton candy and fried butter sticks and caramel covered Oreos. 

Basically, if the Strawberry Festival doesn’t try to kill us, then it’s just not fun. 

K2 has been nominated to host both the unlimited clowns and their carnival rides and mud bogs. Others have volunteered the Eagles to sponsor the rides.

Some say we could forgo the Fourth of July fireworks display, and have that money spent instead on the carnival. Others recommend a property tax levy to cover the cost of unlimited clowns. 

Many say the By Vashon For Vashon tone of the festival was a boon for local businesses. However, one business owner sees it otherwise.They say they didn’t get more money and business, just more traffic, more litter, and “3 types of excrement” that they had to clean up. 

I learned in this thread that in the 60s the Beachcomber had a rumors section where they printed local rumors in bold print, then wrote underneath them in light print about how they weren’t true. This is an absolutely amazing abuse of journalism that we need to bring back. It would be so much easier than reading Facebook posts and comments and trying to discern the rumor from the truth. 

I also learned that the Strawberry Festival used to have something called  “the world’s slowest parade” 

People also miss what might have been the fastest and most dangerous parade, the soap box derby, where you build a car out of plywood and spare nails, drop your kids in it, give it a good push downhill, and see who wins. 

But time moves on, culture changes, the heat death of the universe approaches, and we can’t relive the past. As one astute islander points out, “We will never be able to relive Vashon in the 90’s 💎

Another islander says, “I would just like to relive the 90’s in general!!! Good times. And now I sound/feel old. 😆

I personally have had to rethink my entire sense of the 90s since we were driving in the car listening to grunge music, and my daughter said,  “It’s just a bunch of whiny men.” Did I really waste my teenage years thinking that the epitome of art and culture was dudes whining? No wonder I liked having my brains scrambled on the Ring of Fire. 

Others figure the festival changing is just a result of the inexorable march of time. As one islander notes, “Besides the debacle with the carnival, the island as a whole changed. It went from a community of the neighborly and family oriented to 1-800- turn in your neighbors and politics.”

I don’t know how the island got more political, especially since being apolitical is itself a political stance; It’s the stance of supporting and maintaining the status quo. 

One islander says that the Strawberry Festival is “now for drinking and pushing propaganda.” What propaganda? I’m someone who sees every opinion I disagree with as a psyop, and even I didn’t spot propaganda. 

Finally, someone asks, “Is it Strawberry Festival this weekend?”

We take a moment to appreciate this beautiful fountain uptown: 


In the 90s, kids would lick this for fun.

Some suggestions about what to do include turning it into a urinal, removing it, getting it running again, and turning it into a flower pot. (Note, it could be a dual purpose flower pot/urinal)

We end with some good news. Food is back on the Issaquah! But when will the Issaquah have carnival rides? 

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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