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Marysville’s Homegrown offers variety of goods

MARYSVILLE — The annual Marysville Homegrown Festival and Street Fair, which took place Aug. 14-15, would seem to be a relatively recession-proof event, going by the estimates of Mary Burns.

“It’s about the same turnout as last year,” said Burns, owner of the BookWorks on Third Street, and one of the “Old Town” Marysville merchants involved in staging the event each year. “We’re really happy with the weather, which is just right, and we’ve got about 80 vendor booths along Third Street. Homegrown is just a unique event, with an awful lot of one-of-a-kind things available for sale.”

Burns and her daughter Michelle gushed over the selection of distinctive items and sellers on display, including a self-described psychic who’s made dolls for Whoopi Goldberg, miniature dragons made out of colorful beads, pet beds, yard art, soy candles, tie-dye clothes, and an array of different foods and drinks, from apple dumplings and strawberry shortcakes to fresh lemonade.

Doneldo and Lisa Harmon are from Arlington, but they hope their gyro stand will become a regular feature of Homegrown. As she dispensed two-foot-long curly fries, Lisa praised Homegrown for living up to its name, by offering attendees an event with “a hometown feel.”

Cy Williams of Tulalip has been doing chainsaw woodcarving for 35 years, the past quarter-century of which he’s been sculpting and selling pieces at Homegrown. He and his partner, Chuck Campbell, were buzzing away at logs just off Third Street Aug. 14, and reported that their business had been brisk.

“I sold one sculpture here before I could even get it off the back of my truck,” Williams said. “I started carving by learning the old ways and making rattles, canoes and totem poles, but this is a way of modernizing it.”

For Marc and Cara Knowles, this year marked their first Homegrown. The couple resides near Lake Goodwin, but Marc teaches in the Marysville School District and the parents of one of his students tipped him off to Homegrown.

“We’ve been working on our glass art for the past four to five years,” Marc Knowles said. “My wife makes the glass pendants and coasters, and I do the plates and sculptures. My dad is an artist, but the only medium he hasn’t gotten into a lot is glass. I like the color and the shininess of it and we’ve moved from stained glass to fused, to cast, to blown glass.”

Marc and Cara Knowles both praised Marysville as a nice community, in part because of events like Homegrown. They’re also responsible for recruiting Roy and Teresa Johnson of Stanwood into being fellow first-time Homegrown vendors.

“These are repurposed items,” Roy Johnson said of his zoo of rusty metal animal sculptures. “That’s a nice way of saying they’re recycled old junk,” he laughed.

While Roy has been dabbing in welded scrap metal art for a year, Teresa insisted that he only began working on it in earnest a couple of months ago. He was originally inspired by a friend’s metal sculpture of a daschund and after he’d recreated it, he decided to branch out.

“Jake here was built in about a day,” Roy said, gesturing to a fierce-looking metal raptor that stands between three and four feet tall. “Not all at once, but about eight to 10 hours total. I start out by drawing a sketch, sometimes full-size, then I have to find pieces that fit. I go to a lot of garage sales and flea markets. I like the creative process of it.”

“He likes seeing something in his head and making it happen,” Teresa said.

Retirement was what finally gave Roger Daninger of Tulalip the opportunity to pursue his interest in woodworking. Of the five years that he’s built wooden patio furniture and lawn ornaments, he’s come to Homegrown for three of them to peddle his wares.

“The planter benches and chairs are my favorite,” Daninger said. “Actually, I like all of it. The more challenging something is, the more I like it. It’s therapy. It keeps my mind and hands occupied. It’s relaxing and enjoyable. I like coming here because it’s fun and I like the people.”

Dan Flax, of Clearwater Gardens in Marysville, serves as a wholesale nursery supplier to chains like Haggen and local garden centers, but he also enjoys bringing succulents and sedums to events like Homegrown, for individual consumers.

“Gardening doesn’t have to be complicated,” Flax said. “The more you can sell people plants that are more drought-tolerant and harder to kill, the more successful they’ll be at gardening and the more they’ll want to try it out.”

Flax also sells distinctive planters for his plants, ranging from miniature red wagons and doll-sized chairs to toy boats and adult shoes.

“I come up with about 25 or 30 of these planters a year,” Flax said. “It’s hard to be creative on demand and I have to shop at antique stores to find some of them.”

Marysville’s Lavender Hill Farm has been in continuous operation since 1887, and Mike and Carol McCrorie took over the family-owned farm more than a decade ago, after it had passed down to Carol. Mike was pitching the farm’s “value-added products” at Homegrown, including eye pillows, lotions, soaps, candles, incense, honey, shortbread and tie-dye clothes, all of which contain lavender as an ingredient.

“The fragrance of lavender is very soothing,” Mike McCrorie said. “I like events like Homegrown where I can get out, meet people and share the hard work of our farm with them.”

Marysville’s Neil and Robin Neyman have managed to cater to a very specific niche over the course of the past dozen years. Ever since Neil taught Robin how to use the jigsaw and the scroll saw, she’s been creating humorous home decor items with a theme that a lot of her customers can relate to,

“I love taking scrap and recyclables, cutting and sanding them, and painting funny sayings on them,” said Robin Neyman, as she held up a set of “Redneck Wind Chimes,” made out of old beer cans, and a “Redneck Bird Bath,” made out of an old toilet plunger. “I give people what they want and it gives them a laugh. I love coming to Homegrown because it’s so friendly. People really care about you here, and ask after you. You don’t get that with bigger events.”

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