Lifestyle

Bryant Blueberry Festival draws record crowds

From left, Brittany Vombaur of Vancouver, Wash., picks berries at the July 28 Bryant Blueberry Festival with her cousin, fellow 12-year-old Grant Thomas of Bryant. - Kirk Boxleitner
From left, Brittany Vombaur of Vancouver, Wash., picks berries at the July 28 Bryant Blueberry Festival with her cousin, fellow 12-year-old Grant Thomas of Bryant.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — The third annual Bryant Blueberry Festival on Saturday, July 28, attracted a record turnout to the the Bryant Blueberry Farm & Nursery in Arlington, as attendees of all ages picked their own blueberries and took part in an assortment of activities during the sunny summer day.

Brittany Vombaur of Vancouver, Wash., swung by the festival while visiting her cousin, fellow 12-year-old Grant Thomas of Bryant. Although Thomas is a frequent visitor to the Bryant Blueberry Farm, this year marked the first Blueberry Festival for both him and Vombaur.

Bellingham's Angela Williams and her 2-year-old daughter Lilliana were also first-time festival attendees this year, and it reminded Angela of fun times with her family when she was not much older than Lilliana is now.

"My sister and I grew up picking fruit in Conway, ever since we were tall enough to reach the branches," Angela Williams said. "She's the one who let me know about this festival, and it's awesome. I love how relaxed it is."

Marysville's Matt Urtz and his family loved their first time at the festival last year so much that they brought friends this year, as both Urtz and his daughter found aspects of the experience which they each appreciated.

"She loved the pony and tractor rides, plus the face-painting," Urtz said. "We all liked the picnic atmosphere of it. It's more enjoyable to pick berries when you've got all this other stuff going on. There's more energy than when you do it in solitude."

Although Arlington's Sarah Gladding has known about the Bryant Blueberry Festival for years, she and her family simply never got around to stopping by until this year.

"We always drive past and say, 'Oh, we should make time to be there next year,'" said Gladding, as her 6-year-old daughter Kyrsten sampled a few of the berries from her collection bucket. "We almost didn't make it this year. We came later than we'd planned and had to hurry, but once we got here, wow. This festival is just a great idea."

Bryant Blueberry Farm owner Jamie Flint estimated that at least 1,200 people circulated through his farm during the four-hour festival, up from the roughly 1,000 attendees the event scored last year.

"Good word of mouth helps a lot," Flint said. "We have plenty of activities for the kids, and our crop has been really heavy this year, which makes for easy pickings, literally. Our goal is to provide a fun experience for the whole family."

Flint also expressed his gratitude to his fellow farmers on the Red Rooster route for their support, and is considering bringing in a live band to perform next year.

This year's Red Rooster Route will host a number of other summer and fall festivals, including the Garden Treasures Pozole and Corn Roast Festival on Sept. 8 at the Garden Treasures Nursery & Organic Farm, Pioneer Days at the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum on Sept. 15, Foster's Pumpkin and Corn Maze Festival from Oct. 1-31 at Foster's Produce & Corn Maze, and the Handmade Holiday Indoor Gift Market on Dec. 1 at the Arlington Farmers' Market in downtown Arlington.

A self-guided tour through the greater Arlington area, the Red Rooster Route provides plentiful recreational and you-pick opportunities. To learn more about the farms on the Red Rooster Route and to download a tour map, visit their website at www.redroosterroute.com.

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