Community, Gales Creek, News

Photos: Gales Creek Strawberry Festival makes triumphant return

Picture yourself in 2019, walking through downtown Gales Creek at the 53rd Annual Gales Creek Strawberry Festival. The skies are cloudy, but it can’t detract from what has become the biggest summer event in Gales Creek.

We all know what happens next: Six months later, those who pay attention to public health and international affairs start hearing about a worrying new virus.

The rest, as they say, is history.

It wouldn’t be until this year that the organizers behind the festival got the event back on track, and despite a five year gap, it doesn’t look like they missed a step.

In 2019, it was the biggest iteration of the event in modern history. The best count for how many attended — strawberry shortcake ticket sales — was 620. Donna Marble, a perennial festival volunteer said then she thought it was the most ever sold in the event’s 53-year history. There were thirty vendors. Parking started to become a bit iffy.

Well, move over 2019.

The 54th Annual Gales Creek Strawberry, held Saturday and resurrected by a familiar group of faces, bolstered by some newcomers, was much bigger.

“We served 671 helpings of short cake,” said event organizer Sharon Parker. “Can you believe that!”

(Disclosure: Sharon is my mom; I got the quote from a statement she made on social media)

Parker believes that’s the most the event has ever sold.

Parker thanked the numerous volunteers who made the event happen, including parking attendants who helped direct the flow of traffic though downtown Gales Creek, filling every inch of parking space in the area at the Gales Creek Church, Gales Creek School, the historic Timmerman home, at the closed Gales Creek Store, in a field next to the store, and alongside ditches and roadsides everywhere four and two wheeled vehicles could fit.

“Everybody who volunteered aided in making this an amazing event,” Parker said. “When I was asked to head it up I did not think there was a way we would ever get enough volunteers to run a successful event,” she explained. “I was wrong. People came out of the woodwork. I am so pleased and proud of you all and grateful.”

It was an event to see and be seen; this journalist spotted Gales Creek celebs like Joyce Sauber, a member, leader, and volunteer in too many local organizations to mention here, former fire board director and fire district volunteer Dallas Boge, his daughter Melinda Fischer, who carries on the family tradition, carving out her own place in local history as a recently-elected rural fire board member and also can be found volunteering at any number of organizations in Gales Creek and Forest Grove.

Renowned local musician Jim Evans (Disclosure: my cousin. Get used to these disclosures, I’m related to half the people in this valley it seems) tickled the ivories once again to rock the socks off the crowd with his brand of rockabilly. He was playing on church grounds, so when it came to his rendition of “House of the Rising Sun,” a song about a man’s life gone wrong in New Orleans, he swapped out the lyrics for “Amazing Grace.” He was one of several musicians, starting with Alex Fieken (Disclosure: My nephew), who sang the national anthem to kick off the event.

There were more, given the huge crowds that came to visit the roughly three dozen vendors, food booths, info stations, face-painters, and stalls that crammed onto the school and church grounds. A horse from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office posse and two fire trucks were on hand for the kids and the young at heart; representatives from local government agency Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District were on hand to talk conservation, combatting unwanted plants, and so much more were there.

Gales Creek’s civic life has been somewhat quiet since the pandemic came, which saw the shuttering of every local festival and event, but a group of volunteers that sprang up from the remains of the Gales Creek Chamber of Commerce, the Gales Creek Neighborhood Watch, the Gales Creek Church, people like Joyce Sauber, school board member Kate Grandusky, and so many more have step-by-step brough the events back, successfully relaunching the National Night Out, the Gales Creek Holiday Bazaar, a school-based Halloween event, and now, the crown jewel of Gales Creek affairs, the Strawberry Festival, which will return in 2025 for a 55th iteration.

See you there.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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