Community is this year’s theme at the Marysville Strawberry Festival. Not officially. Officially, it’s a cute little strawberry Jam ‘In away,
singing its heart out or playing the sax, as a nod to the elaborate Music In The Park line up the rejuvenated Maryfest has put into place.
Jodi Hiatt is the new Board President at Maryfest Inc, which is the entity that puts on the Marysville Strawberry Festival. Maryfest has been in operation
since 1974 while the Festival itself has been around since 1932, making this its 87th year.
For many in the area, the Strawberry Festival has been a staple in their lives, popping up faithfully each year with a huge variety of family-oriented
activities. Because it spans so many days and incorporates so many interests, just about anybody can find the time to participate.
Leading up to this year, in recent Fests, there has been a perceptible shift in the public opinion surrounding the Fest. The itinerary didn’t seem as supported,
smaller vendors at the craft fair had been replaced solely with big-box or big-name brands, and volunteers had been a tad scant. This is because at
its heart, core volunteers and members who had been contributing for many years were being ousted, and without their support, the Fest suffered. Organizations
can reasonably expect organic growth and decline, but seismic change at the core of any organization is due to have a radiating impact outward.
Now, with many of the members restored, and with eyes turned toward a bright horizon, the board members and volunteers are hoping that their efforts and
positive changes manifest as a more enjoyable Fest with increased attendance. What’s more than that is their driving desire to really engage at a deeper
level with citizens and the business community.
“We want to return this to feeling like a community event,” says Hiatt. “We’re operating with complete transparency, and it’s very important to us to build
relationships.” Hiatt and the newly assembled, robust team encourage members of the community to attend their weekly meetings, to reach out to individual
members, to share, critique, or just ask questions. With community feedback and involvement, Maryfest can meet or exceed the expectations of the public
they serve. They’ll also continue to survey the community and hold open meetings so that anybody can be involved.
Rebuilding support within the business community is very important as well. While not all of the traditional sponsors have returned, many have entered
the mix. That includes the City of Marysville, Tulalip Casino, Les Schwab, Alaska Air, and Roy Robinson to name only a few.
Because of the fruitful efforts to solicit sponsors, you can expect to see booth presence of those large corporations, explains Hiatt. As a general rule,
if sponsors contribute enough to an event, it’s a reasonable expectation that they can set up a booth. However, expect to see more individual crafters
and local artisans as well. “Between the two mixes, it’ll make for an interesting walk, for sure,” says Hiatt.
As for those of you who plan on putting chairs out to view the parade in advance: “Chairs don’t go out more than 24 hours prior to the parade.”
If you’re interested in contributing on a personal level but aren’t excited about attending board meetings, the call for volunteers is still open. “Our
volunteers are a major support, and are very valuable,” says Hiatt. Jodi Condyles, who is also with Maryfest, volunteered that one of great things
to see is “little things and individual efforts” all come together to create something wonderful, something that is emblematic among the volunteer
To learn more, start with the website https://www.maryfest.org/. You’re actively encouraged to reach with questions
or concerns, so don’t hesitate to do so.