Working together helps create a great Strawberry Festival

In about five weeks, Vashon will celebrate its 102nd annual Strawberry Festival, a tradition celebrated by generations of Islanders. 

I want to take a moment before the hurry and scurry to say thank you to all the Vashon merchants who work with the Vashon Island Chamber of Commerce to make this a fun-filled event each year. I know that for some of you this can be more than just an inconvenience. Thank you for your support of this tradition and your contribution to this community.

I also recognize that this can be an amazing opportunity for businesses to have record-breaking sales. Over the last three years, the chamber has worked hard to incorporate Vashon businesses into the event. More than 44 percent of the booths in 2010 were Island businesses, artists and nonprofits. Our goal for 2011 is 50 percent. 

We offer a free five-foot opening for customer access to all businesses open on Saturday and Sunday. Chamber members whose businesses are typically blocked by booths can receive a 10-foot booth space free of charge to sell their merchandise or services. Chamber members whose businesses are located outside the festival area can get 10-foot booth spaces at the same low price that our artists pay for booths in Ober Park.

Putting on the festival — a party for 30,000 people, so to speak — is a big job. Many may not know that the Chamber, along with our generous local sponsors, funds this entire event for everyone’s enjoyment. Booth fees support expenses such as permits, security, communications, advertising, sanitation and garbage. These fees also supplement music, parades, the carnival and more. 

Any profit made helps support Chamber operations. For businesses this means giving Islanders referrals and sending visitors to your business or organization, providing advocacy for you in Olympia and King County, offering business training seminars and networking opportunities, as well as website exposure and promotional advertising. For the community, the Chamber, in partnership with Vashon Merchants Association, sponsors several events, including the Holiday Tree Lighting, the Spring Fling and our delightful Trick-or-Treat Night.

Let’s continue to work together to make the Strawberry Festival a weekend for all to enjoy. By working together we create better business for a better Island. 


— Debi Richards is the executive director of the Vashon Maury Island Chamber of Commerce.



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