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Last annual Pig Out on the Farm draws crowds
MARYSVILLE In a way, Mark Hagen retired twice over the weekend.
On June 20, Hagen hung up his helmet for the last time as an Everett firefighter.
On June 22, Hagen spent his last day as the first aid officer for the last Pig Out on Farm, held at Biringer's Spencer Island Farm for the past 19 years in conjunction with the Marysville Strawberry Festival.
Aimed largely at young children, the Pig Out features fishing, tractor-pulled rides, swings, animals and other similar events and attractions.
For older visitors, a highlight always has been grabbing a quart or two of the farm's fresh strawberries. As usual there were piles of the juicy, red berries available for the last Pig Out, along with, of course, plenty of strawberry shortcake desserts.
As for Hagen, he has helped with first aid at the event for the 10 years.
"We've seen people come here as children and now they're bringing their children," Hagen said. "For a lot of people, it's a family ritual to come to this place."
Biringer's sits on land owned by the Port of Everett. In the spring, the port plans to breach dikes holding back waters that originally flowed through what is now in part the Biringer Farm. With that fact in the back of their minds, knowing this was probably the last Pig Out, Hagen was far from the only person at Biringer's feeling a bit nostalgic.
"This is kind of a sad day," said Kathy Usher, a Biringer's employee for many years who spent the last day of the Pig Out announcing various events.
The Biringer family already has started a "north" division of their farming operation in Arlington. They will grow berries there, but the farm between Marysville and Everett will close after the last pumpkin is picked from that spot this fall. Dianna Biringer previously told The Globe there will be no fall festival at the Spencer Island farm.
The Biringer's themselves apparently aren't saying, but there were plenty of rumors on the last day of this year's event that the Pig Out eventually may move to the Arlington location.
"It would be nice if they could keep it going," said visitor Jayne Wilson, who brought daughter Patricia to this year's Pig Out. Wilson said she knows her parents brought her to the farm when she was a child, but admitted she doesn't remember a lot about those trips.
As for Patricia, 4, she wasn't really interested in talking to a reporter, but wanted to head directly for the slide near the farm's concession area.
"It is kind of sad, I know this goes way back," said another visitors, Pam Bregelmenn, talking about what could be the last Pig Out. Bregelmenn said she has brought her grandchildren to the event for several years.
The annual Slurp and Burp eating contest has probably been one of the highlights of the Pig Out over the years. That was probably especially the case this year as the contest was transformed into a fundraiser for Everett firefighter Steve Goforth, 37, who is awaiting a heart transplant.
Usher explained the burp and slurp is essentially an eating contest in which contestants make their way hands free down into a "pig trough" filled with strawberries and cream, trying to reach the chocolate "dirt" underneath. There was no word early this week as how much was raised for the Goforth family.