Community

Perennial Strawberry Festival duo earns Volunteer of the Month honors

From left, Carol Kapua and Jodi Hiatt are honored by Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring as the Volunteers of the Month for March. - Courtesy photo.
From left, Carol Kapua and Jodi Hiatt are honored by Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring as the Volunteers of the Month for March.
— image credit: Courtesy photo.

MARYSVILLE — Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring honored Jodi Hiatt and Carol Kapua as the Volunteers of the Month for March for their hard work and dedication to the community's crown jewel of events, the Marysville Strawberry Festival.

"By far and away, Carol and Jodi's greatest legacy to our community is their longtime involvement and leadership with the Strawberry Festival," said Nehring at a recent City Council meeting where the two were honored. "It is with great thanks to people like Carol, Jodi, the Maryfest Board and volunteers for all the behind-the-scenes work and dedication that goes into making the Strawberry Festival a success each year."

The Strawberry Festival has drawn more than 100,000 people to Marysville on the third week of June for going on 82 years.

Hiatt and Kapua are also involved in various other forms of community volunteering aside from their work with the festival.

Jodi Hiatt, who co-owns Marysville Everett Ceramic Tile with her husband John, has always reached out to help her community, according to Beckye Randall, who nominated her. Currently, Hiatt also serves on the board of the Marysville Arts Coalition with Randall, as a strong advocate for creating an arts culture in Marysville. She is also active with Pennies for Puppies and Ponies. Hiatt's volunteer work for the Strawberry Festival is equally expansive. She has served as president of the Strawberry Festival for multiple years. Some of the roles she has served for the festival include on the Market Committee, and as the Car Show liaison and Pageant director.

Carol Kapua, although retired, still works by helping out her community in more ways than one. Like her fellow Volunteer of the Month award-winner, Kapua has also been a multi-year past president for the Strawberry Festival. She serves on the Grand Parade and Fireworks committees, as the Carnival and School District liaisons, and on the Sponsorship and Donation and Royalty committees. The amount of time and effort Kapua puts into the Strawberry Festival is comparable to that of a full-time job. Kapua also volunteers at the Tulalip Senior Center, where she helps the seniors with arts and crafts projects once a week. She is also an advocate for a special-needs woman.

"She is always one of the first people to offer her help when needed," said Angie Miller, current co-vice president and a past president for the Strawberry Festival, who nominated Kapua. "I feel very honored to know her and call her a friend."

Nehring said that many people may not realize that there is an entirely different side of the festival that residents don't see, that makes their involvement a year-round commitment. The Strawberry Festival is part of the Northwest Festival Hosting Association, an organization made up of festivals throughout the Pacific Northwest. The festivals work together and commit to supporting each other's events by sending a delegation to each member festival. Nehring noted that this is especially helpful for making sure that parades have plenty of colorful floats from one city to the next, but also acknowledged that this means lots of travel and hosting throughout the year. Typically, the Strawberry Festival float and crew, along with the festival royalty, attend more than two dozen parades during the summer through Washington, Oregon and across the border in Canada.

"In that respect, Carol and Jodi are frontline ambassadors for Marysville, so they know how important it is to leave a good and lasting impression with other festival communities," Nehring said. "Marysville has an outstanding reputation among festival communities, and it's because of hard-working volunteers like Carol and Jodi."

Nehring said Hiatt and Kapua are incredible examples for people to look up to, and are loved by their friends and families for their kindness and spirit. It is for their hard work and community involvement that they have been recognized as the Volunteers of the Month for March.

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