This weekend will be special on Vashon — at Strawberry Festival, islanders will have the chance to come together to hear music, shop and dine local, amble down the closed main drag of town and greet neighbors they haven’t seen in the longest time.
That last part is the most important thing, of course. A time of deep isolation has finally passed for many of us, and this weekend is a time to come together, get reacquainted and celebrate.
Strawberry Festival 2021 won’t be like Strawberry Festival 2019 — and that’s good.
We need a little “by Vashon for Vashon” right now, and so we applaud the Vashon Chamber’s focus on keeping it local this year. Due to the ever-changing guidelines of the past year, that choice was really the only one that could have been made. Local is what is truly possible and also what matters most right now.
It’s all that has mattered all along. If you doubt that, read our front-page article about this year’s Strawberry Festival Grand Marshals — five true exemplars of community spirit, who graciously shared their honor with hundreds and even thousands of other islanders.
This week’s newspaper also includes a story by talented youth journalist Lila Cohen, who will be writing for the paper this summer. Her first article for us is a profile of George Singer, who has spent decades living on this island and has some wisdom about what makes our community strong.
There is also an article about the efforts of Vashon Center for the Arts and Open Space for Arts & Community to reopen our cultural scene, with caution and care, amid ever-changing rules. Things don’t just snap back to normal, you know. And why should they?
This seems to be a moment to reinvent and re-imagine many things on our island, and starting small seems the best way to go about it.
But make no mistake, even that isn’t easy. Even a scaled-back Strawberry Festival has been a massive undertaking, requiring Chamber volunteers, its partners, and local businesses and nonprofits to collaborate on a tight time frame to make so many decisions and choices, both large and small. This year can’t be all things to all people.
We hope islanders can appreciate all that has been planned and put together this weekend, and not complain about the things that might be missing or get hung up on comparing the experience to what has taken place in the past.
This festival, in the most beautiful sense of the word, will be more homespun. Enjoy it for what it is. Maybe we’ll even want to keep it “For Vashon By Vashon” in years to come.
Because the most important ingredient for any festival, of course, is the people who attend. It’s up to all of us to make the festival shine with community spirit. Only we can make that part of the festival go exactly right.
Now is our chance to come together again, appreciating the fact that doing so can sometimes result in a beautiful chaos, full of surprises and the unexpected, ongoing miracle of community connection.
We’re not all going to agree on the many divisive issues that face our community and our nation at this time — if you doubt that, just read our Letters column this week. But maybe, as George Singer suggests, we can try a little harder to move past that, by acknowledging our shared proximity and humanity on Vashon and beyond.
This weekend seems like a chance to work on that goal. That’s good enough, and big enough, for the summer of 2021 on Vashon.