2010 Strawberry Festival promises ‘berry’ much fun

Vashon Island has been home to fabulous summer festivals for more than 100 years. And this year’s Strawberry Festival may be the biggest one yet.

Featuring more than 175 vendors, including 22 food booths, the 101st Strawberry Festival promises live entertainment, shopping galore, sweet treats and cold beverages — and loads of fun for all ages.

“Festival is a great family time,” said Lee Ockinga, executive director of the Vashon Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the festival each year. “You can see the 4-year-old, the 40-year-old and the 80-year-old hanging out together. It’s a great time for the family to come together. It’s got something for everyone.”

Named in honor of the juicy red berry that once was one of Vashon’s main exports, Strawberry Festival is likely to draw more than 30,000 fun-seekers from across the region this year.

With a kids’ carnival, microbrew and wine tastings, two large parades — one on Saturday and one on Sunday — and an all-ages dance, this year’s festival aims to please those of all dispositions and interests.

“You’ve got to see our parades — both of them,” Ockinga said.

Saturday’s grand parade will feature three high school marching bands, loads of floats, old favorites and entirely new entrants, like a ukulele band.

And Sunday’s classic car parade, named in honor of former Islander Tom Stewart, promises some exotic rigs from near and far.

From flatbed 1950s pickups to electric three-wheelers, the classic car parade provides a taste of old-time Americana and a sample of the future of transportation.

Those watching the mid-day parades may work up an appetite, and they’re in luck, as more than 20 booths exist solely to satiate festivalgoers’ hunger.

From Creole cuisine to A&W root beer floats, the festival features a plethora of savory and sweet treats hot and cold.

Perennial edible favorites will be sold, such as Bethel Church’s Caesar salad, the Vashon Senior Center’s pesto sandwiches and, of course, Vashon Rotary’s strawberry shortcakes and sundaes. All the Island-based groups have earned a following by providing delicious and dependable fare in years past.

“I am always excited about festival — I love festival,” said Linda Bianchi, president of the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce. “It’s like Christmas in the summer. ... Each year it gets better. ... I think everyone’s going to have a lot of fun.”

A special section

Enclosed within this week's Beachcomber is a special pullout section devoted entirely to Strawberry Festival. Check it out to learn more about every aspect of this year’s festival.

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