North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Why turn away those wanting to help the Strawberry Festival?


September 13, 2017 | View PDF

My name is Cheryl Robinson. My father was Roy Robinson. Marysville has been a big part of my life.

From 2007 through 2009 I was Co-Chair of Hospitality with Sandie Phipps, working with many devoted and talented Board Members and volunteers. For both years Maryfest and Strawberry Festival was well organized and splendid. However, as a single parent, the next years raising my children needed my time.

This year, Sandie was told the Festival was in dire straights. There was no volunteer for Hospitality, the formal President’s dinner, or Silent Auction. With only a few weeks to do what normally takes a year, she was asked if she would come onboard. She contacted me and asked me to join her and work our team magic. I said, “of course.” There’s lots to say about how deteriorated and unorganized things were (are) and what a mess things were in. We got right to work and created a beautiful success for Hospitality, our visiting dignitaries and our amazing Royalty. Again I wrote and gave the Formal Dinner Invocation and Blessing. But, suddenly, at the last minute we were given no money and we unexpectedly maneuvered to finance Hospitality, into four $$$$ figures. Volunteers don't finance the Festival. Getting reimbursed took some doing. My daughter, working three jobs, also wanted to volunteer. She took Friday and Saturday off to bartend at the Formal Dinner, and helped serve and bartend in the Hospitality Room Friday and Saturday night. The three of us were happy to volunteer and serve our community. There was hardly anyone helping compared to what I experienced in ’07 thru ’09. Sadly, we were talked to and treated as if we were servants. It was unbelievable and my daughter, 27, was so offended.

I was at the Tuesday meeting mentioned in the article. We were a contingent of many ready volunteers, with paid membership applications totaling over $1,400. We were there to come together with the existing board to breathe life and success back into the Festival. Immediately Darren Doty said the public meeting was cancelled. He turned us away Thankfully, a generous local attorney was part of us throwing the Festival a desperately needed life-ring. Important conversations took place. The few Board members there took the recommendations to listen, then meet while we all stepped out. Part of our contingent was a Tribal representative, and a City Councilman supporting this much needed change. Imagine all these paying members/volunteers being turned away by those few at the table, and at a public meeting?

The article speaks of how successful and financially secure the Festival was prior to the current Board and how it's hard to keep volunteers. Hmmmm, in my opinion, that says a lot about why things are now as they are. I asked the Tribal representative why their generous annual donation was suddenly withheld. I was told it has to do with how the Festival is being run and the steady deterioration the last years. My opinion: sad, smart decision; time to stop throwing good money after bad, making a large, important statement and necessary impact.

Personally, I won't work with those people again, sadly denying the Festival some wonderful and much needed volunteers. I'm ready to work and meet as often as needed with all the wonderful people wanting to return Marysville and the Festival back to it's true glory. These people were the backbone and mainstay of the Festival for many years and decades.

It's time for a “Shiny New Berry.” I'm ready, my daughter is ready, Sandie Phipps is ready to help spit and polish every corner that requires much needed attention with TLC. Volunteers welcome. I know Roy would be proud of us.

Cheryl Robinson

Lake Stevens


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