EDITORIAL: Despite challenges, special events benefit island

  • Tuesday, June 12, 2018 11:48am
  • Opinion

Last weekend’s sheepdog trials kick off the summer months, when a handful of events — old standbys and new traditions — mean good times for many, along with some grumbling.

At The Beachcomber, we relish the quiet that prevails much of the year, but we also know that island businesses often have extraordinarily thin profit margins and off-island dollars are critical to their success. We also think a little variety is often good for the soul, and we appreciate the big events of Vashon summer and those who make them possible.

Last weekend, the Vashon Sheepdog Classic drew some 7,500 people to the Misty Isle field. This has proven to be a remarkable event, year after year. That it raises money for nonprofits is an extra bonus. In the digital era, it feels a bit like stepping into another world at the event, with the open rolling field and backdrop of green trees. It is mesmerizing to watch a dog bolt lightning fast up the length of the field and then bring a small number of sheep back down, working closely with a handler along the way. That alone would be draw enough for event enthusiasts, but the trials include an abundance of enjoyment, from bagpipers, to sheep-shearing demonstrations, to opportunities to try out many fiber arts.

We commend all the organizers and hundreds of volunteers who made this year’s event once again a success and feel lucky to have the event here. Still, there is no denying ferry travel was challenging last weekend, with long delays three days running. We also commend the organizers for providing transportation from the ferry docks and around the island. We hope, if this event continues to grow in popularity, organizers will keep looking for ways to minimize the effects on the ferries — and that WSF will do all it can to ensure more smooth ferry travel.

Islanders who prefer the more tranquil life may want to mark their calendars for some other events slated for the next few months and plan quiet get-aways.

The Strawberry Festival, the largest island event and a fundraiser for the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce, is set for July 20 to 22. Estimates are that it draws about 30,000 people to the heart of town for the parades, booths, music and kids’ activities.

The Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiasts Isle of Vashon poker ride draws hundreds of motorcyclists and marks the end of summer. The date is kept quiet to keep crowds manageable, but the ride is traditionally the Sunday before or after Labor Day. Around that same time, Sept. 8 this year, the annual Passport to Pain, a fundraiser for the Vashon Island Rowing Club, will bring hundreds of cyclists to take on Vashon’s hills.

Large special events sometimes pose challenges; we know that, but as they come and go before the quiet days of fall settle in again, we hope islanders will remember the benefits they bring — and we hope all islanders will find ways to enjoy Vashon and Maury Islands in full summer splendor.

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