It feels like a dream, but it’s really true.
Vashon-Maury Chamber of Commerce has announced it is in the planning stages to present the 2021 Strawberry Festival on July 16, 17 and 18, but with a twist: the annual festival will be much smaller and purposefully planned as a safe community celebration, rather than as an event that draws large crowds from the mainland.
The most impactful change, said Cheryl Lubbert, president of the chamber, is that this year’s festival will definitely not include off-island vendors and booths lining Vashon Highway.
Rather, she said, the festival would be “by Vashon, for Vashon,” with one large music stage erected in the IGA parking lot on Saturday, July 17 only. Performers will take the stage between 1 p.m. to midnight, including a headliner event in the evening suitable for dancing.
“Our goal is to produce a Strawberry Festival for our Vashon community,” said Lubbert. “We are creating parts of the festival that gives our community joy but will not concentrate a mass crowd in town.”
Lubbert described a planning process built around the unpredictability of the pandemic. Currently, she said, the Chamber’s plans assume the current state of restrictions, with contingency plans if cases decrease and restrictions lessen, or alternatively if restrictions increase.
Assuming King County stays in Phase 3 of Gov. Inslee’s reopening plan, the festival will include a car parade around the island, similar to one that was held last year but with a shorter route. Maps will be widely distributed.
The Chamber’s Unofficial Mayor contest, also held last year, will take place again this year. Lubbert encouraged representatives and boosters of all local non-profits to throw their hats in the ring, adding that she’d like to see the biggest field ever in the Mayor race.
“The Mayor race is a great way for our Vashon nonprofits to raise much-needed funds,” she said. “We will encourage online fundraising, but in-person fundraising is also welcome, with respect for protocols.
The Chamber has also just launched a call for artists to create designs for three Strawberry Festival 2021 commemorative posters to be sold as signed limited editions. Winning artists will receive a stipend plus a percentage of sales. To see the call for entries, visit vashonchamber.com/strawberryfestival.
The Chamber is encouraging all island restaurants and eateries to be open for the weekend, to give festival-goers plenty of opens for dining in or getting take-out that can be enjoyed at the music event or parks. If restrictions lift, the Chamber will also host a beverage garden with Vashon beer, wine and cider.
But will islanders be able to saunter down the middle of Vashon Highway through uptown Vashon during the festival?
Stay tuned. The Chamber is now polling its members to gauge their feelings about a potential closure of Vashon Highway from Vashon Theatre to Ober Park, to allow local businesses to spill out onto the sidewalks for retail or restaurant service.