Monday, June 23, 2014

Why Are There Not Enough Pickers To Pick Skagit Valley Strawberries?

On the left you are looking at Martin & Cam looking at a strawberry picked at the Ole & Sven strawberry patch in the Valley known as Skagit.

A couple months ago, after I learned about the problems Skagit Valley berry growers were having getting their crops picked. I blogged about it in The End Of A Skagit Valley Sakuma Strawberry Legacy.

On Facebook I have been following the berry picking woes of Ole & Sven, currently not having enough pickers to pick their strawberries, resulting in tons upon tons of berries rotting in the field.

When I was a kid, growing up in the Skagit Valley, when school let out for Summer most of the Valley's school kids went to work picking berries.

We got paid 75 cents per flat of strawberries picked. I remember berry picking as both hard work and a lot of fun. With a party at the end of the season after which we got our paychecks.

I was more than a little shocked to recently learn that the current amount paid for picking a flat of strawberries is $20.

Wow. I assume this to be true due to the fact that I saw no one claim otherwise.

The most flats I ever picked in a single day, back during my berry picking career, was 29, at a field we called El Rancho.

29 flats times $20 is $580.

If this really is the case, that this much is being paid to pick a flat of strawberries, why are there berries rotting in the fields?

I don't understand.

Are kids no longer allowed to pick?

Back when I was a picker we co-picked with migrant workers, most of whom migrated from Mexico, following the crops across the west. Over the years many of the Mexican migrants decided to remain in the Skagit Valley, which is why the Skagit Valley has such a large population of Mexican descent, good Mexican restaurants and celebrates Cinco de Mayo.

I don't remember at what point in time the migrant camps disappeared from the Skagit Valley. Did the United Farm Workers movement result in better pay for working the California fields so there was no longer a motivation to travel north to Washington?

I have no idea.

Surely the people who live in the Skagit Valley know the berry growers are having a picking problem? Why aren't the people helping out?

This past weekend the town I grew up in, Burlington, had its annual Berry Dairy Days celebration. Berry Dairy Days was always a big deal for me and my siblings, partly due to mom and dad making us cool floats for the Berry Dairy Days Parade. And partly due to the fact that the carnival was located a block from our house.

What with this past weekend being the Berry Dairy Days celebration I am perplexed as to what there is to celebrate, what with tons of berries going to waste.

Is free strawberry shortcake after the parade still part of Berry Dairy Days? My best guess would be no.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

In Seattle At The Fremont Fair's Solstice Parade On My Bike Covered In Body Paint

Today, June 21, 2014 is the Solstice, also known as the First Day of Summer.

Since today is the Summer Solstice the Fremont Solstice Parade is taking place in the Independent Republic of Fremont, located in Seattle.

The Fremont Solstice Parade is known for its hundreds of bike riders riding in various states of undress.

The screencap you see here is from the Wikipedia article about the Fremont Solstice Parade.

The Wikipedia article dances daintily around the naked bike riding aspect of the Fremont Solstice Parade, simply saying, "The parade is famous for its wild and creative floats and ensembles and for the Solstice Cyclists, who strip down before the parade and paint their bodies, who unofficially start the parade every year."

The Solstice Parade is just one event in the three day Fremont Fair which opened Friday, June 20, closing Sunday, June 22.


Above is a screencap from the Fremont Fair website. On the Fremont Fair website you can find the answer to just about any question you might have regarding the Fremont Fair.

I found the following interest tidbits of information....

The event, a celebration of Fremont's "delibertas quirkas" (freedom to be peculiar) culture, is comprised of three free-spirited traditions: the Solstice Fair, the Solstice Parade, and the inaugural Solstice Concert Series. Where else can you find a massive stone troll, Lenin statue, and a dismantled rockets nestled among a thriving neighborhood of business and pleasure.

What is the etiquette with body paint?

We won’t deny it. The Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade are partially famous for body-painted bicyclists and revelers who magically appear every year and make this event truly one of a kind.

If you are one of the body painted participants, PLEASE NOTE:

The Fremont restaurants and bars greatly appreciate if you can carry a towel with you to place on the chair/booth while you dine and drink. If you don’t, they are left scrubbing body paint from booths for weeks to come, which is a mess and can permanently damage d├ęcor. They love to have you in their establishments, but please be respectful of their furnishings if you have paint that may rub off.

Remember that many families do attend the Fair, with small children in tow. While Fair-goers typically wholly embrace the free spirit of the event, when planning your costume/paint scheme, please be considerate of a child’s eye level in conjunction with potential painted body parts that may be exposed. Rude and obscene behavior at the Fremont Fair will not be tolerated and individuals will be asked to leave.

So, don't forget to bring a towel and don't forget to strategically consider a child's eye level regarding what needs to be adequately covered with body paint....