Current, former Maryfest members show opposing views on Strawberry Festival

I read with great interest the article you published March 10 regarding the Marysville Strawberry Festival. On behalf of the board, the volunteers and the community at large, I would like to clarify some of the points made and provide a different perspective.

I have read the allegations and am somewhat surprised by them, given that these individuals were invited to apply to the board and interview for the positions they were interested in. They chose not to apply or interview. It is true that we let a few members go. I won’t go into the many reasons why as there’s no need to besmirch someone’s reputation, especially since they are still valued members of this community. Suffice it to say that we followed our policies related to these issues, and they chose not to appear before the organization to explain or dispute them.

Equally, I am not going to get into any “he said, she said” name calling here. I understand all too well that change can be difficult. Some of the individuals that are part of this self-named “Secret Society” know that we have their resignations on file, and none of the reasons given we ever part of the “said violations.” As for our meetings. They are typically open to the public. On the date mentioned, the “Secret Society” had 18 of their friends/members present. However, we are also not aware of any rule or law that requires the public to be in attendance at a nonprofit’s board meeting or an election of officers. I also wish to clarify the issue of a “member for life” mentioned in the article. This simply means that someone doesn’t have to pay annual dues anymore. Ms. Deckard was granted this status because of her years of service to the organization and community. The bylaws state that only dues-paying members in good standing may participate in elections. In looking for members the organization felt it was important to interview them this year to make sure they had some management or nonprofit experience and they understood the time commitment along with their level of interest and skill sets. There are legal and community expectations that an organization will be run like a business, not a social club or a place to be used for personal gain. We have a board that is dedicated to ensuring that the festival continues to be stellar, regardless of the naysayers who felt slighted because they somehow did not get their way. We have filed our required paperwork with the state and federal governments, have paid relevant taxes and continue to hold status as a nonprofit in good standing with the Secretary of State’s office. True, there are some vacancies on the board, and we welcome anyone to help us continue to improve the festival. We have a small band of volunteers who are working hard to improve it. This includes adding new entries to the parade, and improving the Marketplace, adding new stage entertainment and activities so that it becomes one of the “don’t miss” attractions at the festival. Myself, and every member of the board, will be happy to answer your questions truthfully and fully. We have nothing to hide. We simply want to put on an amazing festival in this community, one that instills pride in young and old, which reflects the values of our residents, the personality of our town, and with any luck, lets us enjoy good times with friends and neighbors, putting aside our differences and instead celebrating what we have in common. Really, hasn’t our festival been through enough? Does all the name calling and finger pointing really accomplish anything? Instead, let’s put our collective energy into this year’s festival, which is coming up quickly. All we need are a few more volunteers who dream big, have some time to commit and who care as deeply about Marysville as our board does.

Mark Jensen

Maryfest Member

I am writing in response to the Marysville Globe, Saturday March 11, 2017, article on the Marysville Strawberry Festival “in a jam.” It is very true that the 2017 Marysville Strawberry Festival is “In a Jam”, but this is due to the leadership of the last 2-3 years.

I would like to address Darren Doty’s and Mark Jensen’s comment on having trouble getting volunteers.

In the past the festival has never had trouble getting volunteers. Most likely the problem is caused by the festival leadership being disrespectful to its volunteers. They banned members from attending meetings and even sent letters to former board members and members telling them they are banned “permanently and lifetime” from being part of the festival and attending any festival events. My husband, a former president of Maryfest Inc., and I were intimidated, threatened and bullied into leaving the festival. In August 2016 we received one of the above mentioned ”permanently and lifetime banned” letters from the festival. After hearing from friends in other festivals throughout the Pacific Northwest, I would like to ask the current leadership why is it that any new members will have to go through an interview and sign a contract saying they would pay a $10,000 fine if they do anything against the Board of Directors.

Why won’t the executive board of directors answer the allegations that were sent to the Secretary of State and our community leaders? Is it because it’s true?

Why is it the board doesn’t have a treasurer? Why won’t they open their books to the public? Maryfest is registered with the state as a nonprofit community organization.

My other great concern is for the senior and junior royalty – six impressionable young ladies. Have background checks been done on all the board and members, including those who have used other names in the past?

I wonder if the job of chaperone for these young ladies is not being taken as seriously as it has been in the past. Do all chaperones meet training, proper age (25 years old) following the by-laws and standing rules and the royalty rules. I worry about having the royalty being driven around by underage drivers as that requires an age 25-plus requirement by the insurance company. My hope is that the Marysville Strawberry Festival does get out of its jam, and we can have our wonderful community event. What needs to happen is that those in leadership need to leave. How many of the leadership even live in our community and know the history of our festival?

Alice VanBeek

Former festival volunteer

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