Strawberry Festival 2021: For Vashon … By Vashon

It truly takes an island.

Since 1909, Vashon’s Strawberry Festival has been a yearly tradition — taking on various names over the years but always steeped in island heritage and community spirit. Although this year’s community celebration is condensed in response to the uncertainty caused by COVID, the heart of our island and our summer celebration is alive and well!

It’s common during the early part of July as the community gears up for the big event to hear neighbors greet each other by saying, “Happy Festival.” Festival is a “spirit.” Yes, there is music galore, among other activities, but mostly it’s a chance to see our neighbors and friends. This year’s celebration is particularly important after a difficult year when many of us had limited interaction in the community. The Vashon-Maury Chamber wanted to create something just for Vashon residents to celebrate the spirit of our island … for Vashon, by Vashon.

There will be non-stop music, a local beverage garden with all ages dancing, a parade that travels the entire island and community-led activities for everyone on July 17 and 18. We have five candidates raising funds for our non-profits and the esteemed title of Unofficial Mayor. Three Vashon artists’ designs were chosen for our commemorative 2021 poster, a collector’s item that marks a period of time for the ending of pandemic restrictions, and reopening.

In addition, we encouraged businesses and organizations to participate by doing what they do best and celebrate the festival in their own way. You can square dance at Pandora’s Box and swing dance and eat strawberry shortcake at Mukai Farm and Garden. Vashon Brewing, Snapdragon and Sugar Shack are open Friday night with live concerts, and check out the new exhibitions in the garden at the Heritage Museum, to just mention a few.

Beginning in February, the Festival Committee, a group of five business owners/Chamber Board members, including Steven Brewer, the Chamber Marketing Director, met weekly. Through virtual meetings, emails and text messages, the committee planned this Festival during uncertain times. Straddling between creating a “safe” event, compliant with whatever the COVID protocols were or could be at showtime and the determination that Festival 2021 would happen.

In addition to our sponsors, there are two people the committee would like to thank for their exceptional generosity, Shawn Hoffman, owner of Vashon Market IGA, and Doug Snyder, of ACE Hardware Service Center.

First, Shawn, without hesitation, agreed to provide the use of his parking lot for the Festival stage and Beverage Garden. And Doug, understanding the financial limitations of this year’s Festival, is donating all of the tents, tables and chairs so that our community will have a place to sit, eat and be covered from the sun while listening to our great line-up of bands. There have been many people who have stepped up to help from Vashon’s amazing community. All willing to go the extra mile. All with a smile and a “can-do” attitude.

It truly takes an island. Thank you to all of our wonderful friends, neighbors and local businesses and organizations who have already contributed to making this Festival a reality. Festival happens because of the work and time of volunteers. If you have time and would like to lend a helping hand, please sign up at signup.com/go/etMrnbY.

Questions? Email Jake Heil at 11jakeheil11@gmail.com or BJ Duft at bjd@herbanfeast.com. Whether you volunteer or just plan on enjoying the festivities, may the 2021 Strawberry Festival bring you joy and an opportunity to reconnect with friends. Happy Festival!

Cheryl Lubbert is president of the board of Vashon Chamber of Commerce and co-owner of Nashi Orchards.