Marysville celebrates Strawberry Festival

MARYSVILLE — In spite of gray skies and occasional rain, the final weekend of this year’s Marysville Strawberry Festival still drew crowds who were ready to get into the spirit of the annual event even though more than a few felt let down by the cancellation of the Adult Trike Races due to a lack of participants on June 17.

“That was probably our biggest disappointment,” said Jodi Hiatt, past president of Maryfest and the director of its market, pageant and entertainment this year. “We had folks who said, ‘Oh, man, I came down just to see that.’ Of course, as one of our longtime trike racers said, ‘I’m getting too old for this,’” she laughed. “But we’ll work even harder to bring it back next year.”

Hiatt acknowledged that attendance at the Market in Asbery Field was down this year due to the weather, but she described most of the vendors as pleased with the foot traffic they were able to attract under the circumstances, from June 17-19.

“The sales weren’t up from last year, but our entertainment got lots of compliments,” Hiatt said of the lineup of performers, which this year included country musician Chance McKinney, “one of the best unsung artists in the U.S.”

Funtastic Shows’ “world’s finest carnival” also saw its fair share of visitors, even in the midst of clouds and drizzle, from June 16-19 at Marysville Middle School. While small children such as Genesis and Ines Corro stuck to little ones’ rides such as the slides, older kids like Mason Baldwin showed off their muscles on the test-your-strength mallet hammer.

June 18 marked the Strawberry Festival’s zenith, starting with the Kiddies Parade from Totem Middle School to Comeford Park that kicked off at 6 p.m. Event organizer Bobbi Easley took the reins for the first time this year, and found herself running out of participant ribbons for its more than 150 entrants. The pirate outfits of 11-year-olds Tanner Ratynski and Sophia Byrnes nabbed them first place in the Costumes category, while the quartet of Rachel Stallcup, Victoria Heisel, and Brielle and Teagan Sydow walked away with first place in the Wheels category for dressing up as the Kardashian sisters, plus one paparazzo.

“I thought of doing something like Paris Hilton, but I realized that I didn’t want either of my daughters dressed like Lindsay Lohan,” laughed Tara Sydow, Brielle and Teagan’s mom. “I just thought of it this afternoon.”

An ensemble cast of kids and adults dressed as the characters from “The Wizard of Oz,” including one playing the tornado and another in a T-shirt as the Yellow Brick Road, won first place for the Pets category, thanks to their Toto. The grand prize for the Kiddies Parade went to tiny robots Savannah and Noah Walker, decked out in boxes, tinfoil, dryer hoses and silver face-paint.

State Avenue remained empty for more than an hour between the end of the Kiddies Parade and the start of the Grand Parade, with its more than 120 entrants, which allowed those camped out on the sides of the street to relax in the breeze.

Audrey Charles usually waits until the Friday evening before the Saturday Grand Parade to set out her chairs on State Avenue, but after being warned that spectators were colonizing the sidewalks earlier than in previous years, she placed her chairs during her lunch break on June 17.

“We’ve been coming here for years, and this is the first time we’ve set up like this,” said Jim and Mary Olson, who have 50 years of Strawberry Festival Grand Parade attendance between them, as they sat in the back of their flatbed pickup truck facing the street. “This is a great parade. I like how it lights up the night.”

The Olsons credited son-in-law Ron Peebles with giving them the idea. Kara, Ron’s wife, works at the John L. Scott building where the Peebles and Olsons parked their cars, and thanked her boss for allowing them to use the parking spaces for the occasion.

“The pirates are my favorite,” said 6-year-old R.J. Peebles, Ron and Kara’s son, who’s developed a fondness for the Seattle Seafair Pirates in the three years that he’s attended the Grand Parade.

“I just like the festive atmosphere,” Kara Peebles said. “The community really comes together on occasions like this.”


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