Editorial: Cage fighting at the festival

The Strawberry Festival has changed over the years, which to some degree is inevitable. It’s a little less homespun, a little bigger, noisier and more commercial.

Still, it has retained a certain Vashon charm. The parade captures the Island’s creative spirit. The music is fantastic. The artisans at Ober Park offer up beautiful, locally made crafts and artwork.

What was troubling this year was the stealth appearance of cage fighting, a rough-and-tumble, sometimes brutal display of male prowess, dressed up as a “sport.” There’s nothing sporting about this activity. It plays to our basest instincts. It’s violent, and it begets violence.

As evidence, a brawl broke out among the audience, touched off, apparently, when a woman asked a man to back up, he got rough with her, and others jumped in. Though quickly quelled, it suggests the nature of this alleged sport: What other event at the festival prompted a call to the police?

Organizers said they offered up the event because there’s little at the festival that caters to men under age 30. That’s not completely true. Thanks to the efforts of Islanders Troy Kindred and Pete Welch, there was a remarkable diversity of live music at this year’s festival, including some metal-influenced performances by a couple of well-known Seattle bands.

If organizers want to bring cage fighting to Vashon, there’s little we can do to stop it. The market, ultimately, will determine its viability. But to mar the Island’s one annual festival with such an event — to so profoundly alter the flavor and spirit of this traditional gathering — seems wrong. We hope they won’t be back next year.