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Letter | Disappointed: Summer Celebration is not like it used to be
I read the editorial (July 17 about Summer Celebration), and I felt that I should write about earlier Summer Celebrations.
This event began in 1967 and was located at the present community center site first in a school and later in the original community center building.
It was sponsored for many years by the Mercer Island Visual Arts League (MIVAL). The centerpiece of this event was a juried art show with entrants from the entire Puget Sound area. Usually over 500 pieces were submitted and 25 percent were selected. There was also a junior art show with prizes as part of festival. There were several booths selling artwork, crafts and locally made outdoor furniture. There were two or three small food vendors and a few small musical presentations.
In 1990, the city became a partner in the event, and it was moved to a town center location. Later, the city took over complete control of the event and changed the name from the Summer Arts Festival to Summer Celebration. It was held originally on 78th Avenue S.E. and was later relocated to 77th Avenue S.E. During that time, the Reporter provided a 12-page magazine section that was delivered with the weekly paper. It contained a map of the many festival activities, a schedule and description of musical and other activities and a description of the arts and crafts sales booths (there were 180 in 1990). At that time, listed for children were face painting, balloons, paper dolls, music, puppets, jugglers “and much more.” There were dozens of entertainers including vocalists, bands, small musical ensembles, belly dancers, magicians, etc., not to mention Ronald McDonald.
The festival map for 1990 shows a main stage, a children’s stage, a Ronald McDonald stage, a beer garden/wine tasting area, a small food area and a small antique car area. The map also shows event parking (for $1) on Mercerdale Field. At this year’s festival, no longer named Summer Arts Festival, there is still some MIVAL connection. The two main features are now the food stalls and the children’s ride area with many costly rides. I would be surprised if there were more than 25 vendors that could be described as local artists or craft people. Many vendors do not come back the next year. In place of vendors are booths featuring lawyers, doctors, dentists, home improvements, political organizations, religious groups and Costco. There is also an extensive vintage automobile area. I also did not see the teen basketball competition that I have seen in earlier years. Frankly, I see no point in returning next year.
The point of my comments is that maybe it is time for the people involved in this to take a good look in what has transpired and maybe be inspired to give us a worthwhile experience.