We, the newcomers to Seattle, learned of the Vashon Strawberry Festival months ago and jumped to book accommodations for the weekend. Only later did we learn that strawberries, once a huge cash crop of the island, have pretty much disappeared–no longer a viable crop on the island. The traditional Strawberry Festival continues, but in name only. So we came to Vashon feeling a bit jilted. We’d pictured endless trays of locally grown fruit rendered into strawberry daiquiris, strawberry shortcake, etc. However, on Saturday when we attended the annual parade, the charm of Vashon Island and its residents warmed us far more than any strawberries would.
Call it a summer festival instead and the weekend succeeds magnificently. We’d read criticisms of the festival, decrying the presence of merchants, working the weekend festival circuit, offering the same old chocolate covered bananas and funnel cakes every festival has. However, of such sturdy bedrock are all weekend festivals made. Stalls offering face-painting, soap-bubble guns and balloons draw out the local families—bring them all crowding into the streets of the town of Vashon. Everyone seems to know everyone else. Vashon prides itself on its oddities, and the (No) Strawberry Festival has all the nutsiest cases come forth to fly their flags high. We want to return next year and bring our big honking cameras to capture it all.