Strawberry Festival survey results released

MARYSVILLE – The Twilight Grand Parade is the hands-down main event of the Strawberry Festival each June, but if the community members had a choice, more people prefer returning to a daytime parade, a festival survey shows.

Among 216 people polled in an online survey conducted by festival organizers Maryfest, 49 percent of survey respondents preferred a daytime parade, while 37 percent preferred an evening parade and 14 percent had no opinion.

Among other findings:

• Related to the parade question, 33 percent supported a noon start time, 30 percent said to keep it at 7:45 p.m., 26 percent liked a 4 p.m. start, and 11 percent had no preference.

• 53 percent of survey-takers live in a household that includes a couple with more than one child.

• Virtually all survey-takers had attended the Strawberry Festival at least once, and 90 percent had either attended, watched or participated in the parade.

The survey gave the public a chance to share its thoughts with the Maryfest board of directors for ways to improve and expand the festival.

Ideas ran the gamut, with common themes of a shorter parade with more floats and marching bands; bringing back the tricycle races; more vender variety, craft booths and food trucks at The Market; relocating the carnival from the middle school fields to closer downtown; and more kid, family and adult activities in Comeford Park.

Maryfest President Jodi Hiatt thanked everyone who participated in the survey. The results have generated discussions.

“In our effort to make each year’s festival more exciting than the last, we wanted the community to us how we can make it better,” Hiatt said. “We heard what you had to say…”

Survey results and public comments are available on the festival website at www.maryfest.org.

Hiatt said festival organizers also plan to poll downtown businesses to get their take on whether an evening or daytime parade would be more beneficial to their businesses.

Festival parades are a mixed bag around the Pacific Northwest. The Seafair Torchlight Parade, Spokane Lilac Parade and Portland Rose Parade happen at night, Olympia’s Lakefair starts in the early evening, and Tacoma’s Daffodil Festival parades, Wenatchee’s Apple Blossom parade and Issaquah’s Salmon Festival parade happen during the day.

Hiatt emphasized that any major changes to the parade or most other events wouldn’t happen until at least 2019 and would need to be discussed with city leaders that permit Marysville’s premier annual event.

The Marysville Strawberry Festival and Grand Parade has been a community tradition for 86 years, celebrating the history of the berries and acres of fields that earned Marysville the nickname, “The Strawberry City.” The 10-day festival draws thousands of event-goers each year.

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