MARYSVILLE – The reports of the death of The Market at the Marysville Strawberry Festival have been greatly exaggerated.
So says Maryfest president Darren Doty and vice president Mark Jensen.
True, they do not have anyone yet to run the event. But they are looking at many options. And there are a few dozen vendors already signed up, they said.
Instead of The Market dying, Jensen said plans are to expand it.
“It’s a very important part of what we do,” he said. “We want to make The Market a destination, rather than an afterthought.”
They hope that bringing in quality bands that play different styles of music will help build that event.
They also hope to bring back the Trike Races, not this year, but in the future. Jensen said people loved that event because it was “silly and goofy.”
Doty added, “It got away from the fun” and became too competitive, so it was canceled.
They also want to rebrand the Fashion Show by bringing back royalty alumni. “Keep them involved; make it their event,” Jensen said.
They also want to spice up the parade by having some new acts, such as the Seattle Cossacks and the Seattle Police motorcycle drill team.
“We want to try different things to draw” people, instead of the exact same thing every year, Doty said.
“It gets redundant without change,” Jensen said, adding he even wants to see some different rides at the carnival, too.
Doty said getting volunteer help for Maryfest has been an issue this year, as it has been for the eight years he’s been involved.
“It’s an ongoing issue,” he said. “There’s been turnover for a long time.”
While Doty and Jensen said it is always hard to get people to volunteer, it is even harder this year because there is a group trying to undermine the Maryfest board.
Indeed, a group sent a three-page letter to state Rep. John McCoy of Tulalip and Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring and the City Council alleging misconduct. The group, which Doty and Jensen called the “Secret Society,” also has contacted the state Attorney General’s and Secretary of State’s offices.
The letter, dated Nov. 30, 2016, alleges:
•The board did not have an ethical election in August of 2016 because the public was not allowed to attend.
•Charter member Cheryl Deckard was denied voting rights, even though she qualifies as a “member for life.”
•People who wanted to pay their dues and participate in the election were not allowed to do so.
•People who wanted to join the board had to be interviewed first, which had never been done before.
•There has not been a duly elected treasurer or a treasurer’s report for years.
•The board is supposed to have 15 members, and vacancies should be filled within 31 days. The board has not been filled in years.
•The board has not had a secretary at some executive board meetings, meaning no minutes were taken.
Many of the people in the opposition group had been involved in Maryfest in the past and resigned for various reasons. Jensen said many in that group left prior to last year’s festival, leaving those left in a lurch. When they tried to return at election time those that remained wanted to make sure they were willing to work with them for the good of the event. So they set up an interview process.
“They chose not to come to the interview,” Jensen said. “We did not terminate anyone.”
Jensen said the opposition group lost sight of the festival’s vision. “You’re in a place for so long that you become more important” than the event, he said.
The pair say they want to get more of the community involved. “Everybody has a little bit to bring” to the table, Jensen said.
They said they don’t want to keep people out. They would love 20 more volunteers. They know some people left with hurt feelings and on bad terms. But their main objective is for Maryfest to be more professional.
Doty added, “We want to do what’s best for the festival. We have to run this like a business.”
He said it would not make sense for a business to bring on board someone who didn’t want to work with the rest of the team.
“Get the management off the playground and into the board room,” Jensen said. “My first meeting I was deplored; so casual, no leadership.”
He added that he thinks there always should have been interviews before board members are selected – so everyone is on the same page, and there are higher standards.
“It’s a privilege to be on the Maryfest board,” Jensen said. “A nonprofit business cannot be run like that.”