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Lavender Festival to take one-year hiatus in 2010

Vashon’s Lavender Farm Tour will take a one-year hiatus this year to allow organizers to have a more mellow summer than they’ve had in the past few years.

The festival has been wildly successful, said Catherine MacNeal, proprietor of Lavender Hill Farm. But the owners of the three farms that participate in the tour are looking forward to taking a year off to brainstorm how they can make Vashon’s summers with lavender even better in the future, she said.

“This year, promoting lavender as a destination one weekend is not something we’re going to do,” MacNeal said. “This is not the beginning of the end; it’s just taking a pause to find a new beginning.”

MacNeal said she couldn’t promise the Lavender Farm Tour will return in 2011 in a similar form to 2008 and 2009’s large festivals, which drew 2,500 people — most from off-Island.

The owners of the tour’s three farms — Fox Farm Lavender, Lavender Hill Farm and The Lavender Sisters — plan to rethink the tour, so that perhaps it could be focused more on Island visitors, MacNeal said.

“We’re going to miss it this summer,” MacNeal said, “which will be good, because it’ll spur us to do something great next summer.”

Lavender Hill Farm, on S.W. 238th Street, will be open during lavender season for U-Pick lavender, and its small lavender store will be open during the summer as well, MacNeal said.

The other two farms are still forming their plans for 2010. The Lavender Sisters will sell lavender and lavender products at the Vashon Farmers Market, as in years past.

MacNeal said there’s reason for optimism about the future of the tour.

“The whole reason for the break is to come back with something new, something that builds on what we’ve done but also has a new twist on it, so people who have been to the Lavender Festival will come again, because there’s something new and different happening,” she said. “We have loved doing the tour, but we all felt that we needed a rest.”

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