Maryfest finds new office, asks for aid in recovering from fire

The red caboose at the intersection of Cedar Avenue and Fourth Street has not been the office for Maryfest since it suffered fire damage July 19. - Kirk Boxleitner
The red caboose at the intersection of Cedar Avenue and Fourth Street has not been the office for Maryfest since it suffered fire damage July 19.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — Two months after fires devastated their office, the members of Maryfest have found a new home, but are still struggling to recover from their losses.

Maryfest's new location is at 1059 G State Ave., in the same complex as Whitfield Insurance and Gary Wright Realty, next door to the Marysville City Hall building. Their old office, in the red caboose at the intersection of Cedar Avenue and Fourth Street, was lost to them July 19, after serving as their home for 10 years.

"The caboose had its quirks," said Jodi Hiatt of Maryfest. "It was hot in the summer and cold in the winter, you couldn't hear when the train went by, and it was cozy with more than six people, but it was a perfect fit for the festival."

While Marysville Strawberry Festival members were participating at the Seafair Chinatown parade July 19, they received a phone call telling them that the caboose was on fire. Marysville firefighters responded in time for no damage to be done to the inside of the caboose, although the fire did scorch the door of its south end, destroying the steps and blackening parts of the nearby tree, as well as some roses in the April Friesner Memorial Rose Garden, which honors Strawberry Festival presidents and a few city of Marysville officials. What neither firefighters nor Maryfest members realized was that this would only be the first fire of the day. The second fire burned through the inside of the caboose.

"Although firefighters responded quickly, the damage done was overwhelming," Hiatt said. "Even though the actual fire damage was small, the smoke and heat damage was beyond belief. The Strawberry Festival lost approximately 90 percent of everything that was in the caboose."

The material losses ranged from computers, copiers and fax machines to festival T-shirts and other clothes, parade banners, and trophies from various parades.

"While all this was lost, there were several thankful prayers that no one was there and hurt, and that it happened four weeks after festival and not four weeks before," Hiatt said.

Maryfest is already planning for the 2010 Strawberry Festival, and is still participating in parades in the meantime, to promote both the festival and the city and community of Marysville.

"We realize that next year is going to be tough, even tougher than this year, not only because we have to start all over again, to gather different items that we lost in the fire, but also financially," Hiatt said. "The city was kind enough to let us use the caboose for a nominal yearly fee, but now, we need to find money for rent, which means that much less money can be spent to help put the festival on next year."

Monies for the Strawberry Festival are raised thru sponsorships, selling of the festival pins and T-shirts, and membership and entry fees into festival events.

Hiatt also expressed concerns about the possibility of the caboose being removed and replaced with another building.

"Whether the festival would be allowed to return to the caboose is the not the major concern," Hiatt said. "Losing the caboose is. The caboose is a nice, welcome sight when entering the city. The Strawberry Festival has welcomed many excited visitors, who stopped by just to see what the inside of a real caboose looked like."

Maryfest has started a campaign to keep the caboose, and is also soliciting support to help them replace their losses from the fire. Maryfest members meet the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in their new office, and those who wish to contact them or learn more can call 360-659-7664 or log onto their Website

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