MARYSVILLE — By the time the Grand Parade’s 120 entrants had rolled down State Avenue and the Fred Meyer-sponsored fireworks show had lit up the skies above the city of Marysville’s Public Works Department on Saturday, June 15, the 82nd annual Marysville Strawberry Festival had already offered a full weekend of family activities for all ages.
While Rick Spromberg, manager of the Funtastic Carnival, was proud to present a new cashless swipe-card ticketing system for the rides, games and food booths in the fields of Marysville Middle School in time for the weekend, so too was the Market in the Park drawing crowds to its diverse array of attractions in Asbery Field, which included the strawberry shortcake eating contest attended by both Festival Royalty and average visitors like Mike and Janet Downing.
“I have a bigger mouth, so I can inhale it faster,” said Mike Downing, who took first place in the final round of that Saturday’s contest, with his mother Janet coming in at a close second. “She’s always only one or two bites behind me whenever we do this.”
While Marlin James and his country band were among the many musical performers to entertain Market-goers as they loaded up on meals and snacks that day, across from more than 100 vendors on the other side of Asbery Field, little ones got to take part in traditional activities such as pony rides and miniature golf.
“This is his first pony ride,” Beth Huntley said of her 9-month-old son Cayson. “I just love the atmosphere here. There’s lots of people and it’s really busy.”
While Beth Huntley cited the strawberry shortcake eating contest as her favorite part of the day, for Aracely Martinez, whose daughter Janelle also rode a pony, it was the bumper-cars at the Funtastic Carnival.
“I’m looking forward to the costumes during the parades,” said Mary Lou Gage, as her 8-year-old daughter Jayna putt-putted her way through a round of golf. “I’m usually working during this weekend, so this will be my first time actually seeing the parades.”
Fellow 8-year-old miniature golfer Tony Spiro enjoyed not only the golf and carnival rides, but also the Market’s corn dogs, which he deemed his favorite Festival food.
Just west of Asbery Field on Seventh Street, Amanda Petersen was coordinating the Kiddies Parade at Totem Middle School. This year marked her first as the lead organizer and her second as a volunteer in the Kiddies Parade, whose numbers she estimated were up in nearly every category of entrants.
“I’d still hope to see more costumed entrants, and we only have one float this year, which should be a bigger category,” Petersen said. “Rising Stars Gymnastics is our biggest group this year, but the Little Gym of Everett has at least 20 kids, and they weren’t here last year. It’s also the first year that I think the entrants have really paid attention to the Strawberry Festival’s theme. ‘Fiesta’ really seemed to grab people’s attention.”
Courtney and Eric Morales were named the overall grand prize winners of the Kiddies Parade in Comeford Park, for dressing themselves and their four kids up as characters from Dr. Seuss.
“He’s our favorite children’s author,” said mom Courtney Morales, as Cat-in-the-Hat dad Eric Morales struggled to keep the hat of Sam-I-Am on the head of his son Helios, who rode in a red wagon complete with handmade props of Green Eggs and Ham. “We dressed up as ‘Springtime’ for last year’s Kiddies Parade, and it’s fun to come back and let the kids see their friends and wave to the crowds.”
Tanner Ratynski and Sophia Byrnes, both 13, won first place in the costumes category for their handmade costumes as Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan, respectively, from “Monsters University,” Tanner by attaching two sides of a foil balloon of Mike to a green T-shirt over a green bodysuit, while Sophia painted her face blue, made a shirt of “fur” out of blue leis, and sewed together a stuffed foam tail for “Sully.”
While many of the chairs lining the sidewalks of State Avenue for the Grand Parade had already been set out throughout the preceding week, the Canell family in Marysville lucked into a prime viewing spot along the parade route, just across the street from Comeford Park, thanks to Bradley Tackitt and his pickup truck parking there at 5:30 p.m.
“We fit through all the signs,” Tackitt joked. “I used to sit on the roof of the Buzz Inn to watch this.”
“When else would you get to park in the middle of the street,” Dolores Canell laughed.
While Peggy Canell looked forward to seeing her granddaughter and grandson in the Grand Parade, Makaelyn Canell had just come from participating in the Kiddies Parade and considered the cotton candy to be the best part of her day.