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Street fair benefits from sunshine, renewed interest

ARLINGTON — The Arlington Street Fair July 10-12 benefited from the same mostly sunny weather and apparent resurgence in interest as the Arlington Fly-In, to which they offered free volunteer shuttle service.

Paul Ellis, capital projects manager for the city of Arlington, spoke with many of the approximately 120 vendors who took part in this year’s Street Fair. He reported that they experienced “very good sales” July 11, with slightly slower sales July 12 due to rain, wind and a morning thunderstorm, but even then, “people still came out to shop.”

When the Downtown Arlington Business Association marked the booth spaces on the street, they provided a bit more room between the booths than in previous years. According to Ellis, this “greatly improved” the flow of foot traffic, for both vendors and storefronts alike.

“When you needed a break from shopping, there was plenty of food and great entertainment throughout the weekend,” said Ellis, who thanked the “huge number of people who worked behind the scenes to make this event the success that it was,” especially since many were volunteers.

Among the vendors who returned to the Street Fair this year was Christiaan Zegstroo, of the Dutch Highlands Farm in Arlington, looking to unload a herd of “fainting goats.” Technically, “fainting goats” don’t actually faint, but instead suffer from a muscular disorder that causes their muscles to seize up when they’re startled, which usually results in them falling over. The goats recover quickly enough, and Zegstroo touted them as “easy to raise,” because they’re not able to climb or jump.

“They’re good as either pets or food,” Zegstroo said of the goats. “If you cross them with a larger meat breed, you get a large, rapid-growing meat goat. It’s more bang for your buck.”

This year marked Zegstroo’s second Street Fair, although he laughed, “I haven’t seen it yet,” because he was busy drumming up customers for his harvests of chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, beef, pork and rabbit, as well as his pasteurized eggs.

“I’ve only got two and a half acres, so it’s not a lot of land,” Zegstroo said. “This gets people aware of me and the kids always like the animals.”

Fellow Arlington native Luke Kooyman was making his first appearance at the Street Fair this year, but his wood-carved art for LAK of Ink co. represented the culmination of two and a half years’ worth of work. Kooyman’s company is intended to showcase handcrafted art in a variety of media, by using materials that would otherwise be thrown away, such as scrap woods and metals, to build items ranging from children’s toys to furniture.

“My wife made the puzzle-boxes,” Kooyman said, gesturing to the table. “You always want your wife’s cooperation, to sanction extra time in the garage,” he laughed.

Kooyman expressed enthusiasm for “seeing a child’s eyes light up and their imagination stir” at receiving handcrafted wooden toys, and noted that all the ingredients of his products, including their stains and finishes, are non-toxic.

“This is great,” Kooyman said of the Street Fair. “I’ve only lived in Arlington six years but I grew up in Snohomish County, and I love this community. I really like getting to know all these people.”

Trinity Martial Arts opened in Arlington at the start of July, and Chief Instructor Chris Aprecio was on hand at the Street Fair to give would-be martial artists, both young and old, the chance to learn at least one move for free. Aprecio showed passersby how to clench their hands properly into fists, and strike down with the right force, to break wooden boards in half.

“I tell the kids, just before they do it, ‘You’ll feel a little sting in your hand, but it’ll be gone before you know it,’” Aprecio said. “The feeling of pride that fills their hearts lasts much longer.”

Aprecio has been practicing martial arts for 16 years, starting at the age of 15, and he’s been teaching them for the past 10 years. He credits martial arts with transforming him from a kid with low grades, who was “hanging out with the wrong crowd,” into an academic achiever who found “a second family” in the people with whom he trained.

“Now, it’s my turn to give back, for the gifts that I’ve received,” Aprecio said. “Those gifts are confidence, self-esteem, leadership, determination, discipline and a fun and exciting way to stay fit.”

“Giving back” is practically the motto of Rescue, the area non-profit group dedicated to recovering unused medical supplies and equipment, in order to send them to medical facilities in developing countries. Jeff Foster, husband of Rescue President Debi Foster, was manning a booth at the Street Fair to drum up donations, by offering a wooden bench as a raffle prize, built by Terry Marsh and painted by Flowers By George employee Debbie Tuck. Jeff Foster emphasized the dire need in the developing countries where Rescue sends medical items, but at the same time, he pointed out that the group also sends medical items to Salem, Ore., Western Seattle and Camano Island, “so we’re not ignoring our own backyard.”

On either side of the vendor tents, the regular merchants of Olympic Avenue also welcomed an influx of customers. Taylor Jones, general manager of Arlington Hardware, estimated that he received the same level of traffic as during previous years’ Street Fairs.

“I don’t think people are discouraged by the economy,” Jones said July 11. “A lot of it is just weather-driven, so this year’s weather didn’t hurt. Everybody’s having a good time, and we’re happy that we have our new building to serve them. Our front doors have been open every day.”

Nola Smith, owner and manager of Pacific Learning Solutions, saw a steady stream of customers during the Street Fair, to the point that she wasn’t able to close up shop until 7:15 p.m., on July 10.

“It’s a little better than last year,” Smith said July 11. “It’s bigger this year, and today’s been a great day for business for everyone, I think. There are lots of people with children, and we have the benefit of being air-conditioned,” she laughed.

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