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Arlington Street Fair encourages visitors to check out local scene
ARLINGTON — This year's Arlington Street Fair only ran for two days, July 9-10, rather than its usual three days, but Julie Tate thinks the event went well overall.
"Our attendance was a little down, which I think might have been because it was really hot on Friday, but we still offered a fun time for families and everyone seemed to enjoy it." said Tate, vendor organizer for the event and Downtown Arlington Business Association treasurer. "We had a lot of back and forth about Sunday, with a lot of vendors saying it's been their best day at past street fairs. It's up to our board to decide if we'll do three days or two next year, but I will say that if we don't have the volunteers we can't do it."
While familiar favorites such as Joseph Plewinski's Cascade Kettle Corn provided entertainment and snacks at the same time, a number of tents put healthy living front and center. While volunteers from Cascade Valley Hospital handed out sunscreen and hand sanitizer in between testing blood pressure and blood sugar levels, staff members of the Denton Massage School and Wellness Clinic in Arlington gave out free seat and table massages on site.
"Whether people are suffering from stress, tension, injuries or pain, massage can help them feel better and give them some time to rest and relax," said Mary Rose Denton, owner of the Denton Massage School and Wellness Clinic, as she worked on the shoulders of French high school exchange student Clement Akriche. "This street fair has grown each year with the participation of the community which contributes quite a bit to the atmosphere. The variety of vendors is nice, and it's heartwarming to hear from people like the one woman who comes by every year because it's local."
Kelly Penny, community relations director for Cascade Valley Hospital, noted that this year's street fair was only the second at which the hospital had a booth. She sees the event as a golden opportunity to inform area residents about ailments ranging from sleep disorders to carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as Cascade Valley's range of clinics to treat them.
"Today, we've already had two possible diabetes diagnoses," Penny said in the afternoon of July 9. "We referred those people to their family physicians. We also hand out water bottles and remind people that it's important to stay hydrated during the summer, especially outdoors during hot days like this one. Most people don't drink enough water, even if they think they do, since soda is not as good as water. Cool off as often as you can."
"This is my first Arlington Street Fair," said Kathy Walsh of Marysville, as her blood sugar was tested. "Everyone is so friendly and it has a real feel-good hometown ambience."
Camano Island's Jean Miller agreed. She hadn't even heard of the street fair before she arrived in Arlington on the morning of July 9 for a dog-grooming appointment, but the variety of goods and entertainment kept her in town well after she'd had her customary breakfast at the Bluebird Cafe on Olympic Avenue.
"I'm having a ball," Miller said, as she shopped for pot-holders from Wanda Gauter, owner of Embroidery by Wanda in Maple Falls. "You can just stand around talk to people, and as always, the Bluebird has the best waffles."
"I love their biscuits and gravy," said Gauter, returning for her fourth year at the street fair. "I bring my motorhome here for the weekend so that I can stop and stay a while."
Dave Kuhl hopes to get even more folks in the mood to buy locally. The community development director for the city of Arlington was manning the "Buy Local" booth at the street fair, in honor of the campaign that kicked off in Arlington last month.
"Our program was based on the 'Buy Local' campaigns of Marysville and other areas," Kuhl said. "We're getting businesses to coach their employees to thank customers for buying locally. Between that and the buttons and the banners and the T-shirts, as people see the message more and more, we think it'll click in their heads to make that choice and ask themselves, 'Why not shop here?'"
The Carbajal family of Arlington returned to the street fair for their fourth year to do just that, as mom Christina gave each of her kids enough money for one "big" purchase each. For daughter Aspen, whom her mom described as a tomboy, it was a mold of her hand holding a baseball
"I love that you get good deals and a lot of these vendors are local," Carbajal said. "It's like Christmas shopping in July," she laughed.