Marysville Strawberry Festival facing strawberry shortage due to cold spring

The Marysville Strawberry Festival is back for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but it’s facing a different, unique problem: a shortage of fresh strawberries.

A very cold and wet spring is delaying this year’s strawberry harvest for about 10-14 days, according to NWS Seattle Senior Meteorologist Dana Felton.

“They’re just green at this point instead of red,” Felton said. “We’ve had a very, very cold spring. Since April 1, the high temperatures have been below normal on a little more than 80% of the days. And on about a quarter of the days, the high temperatures have been 10 degrees or more below normal.”

Fresh strawberries or not, the show went on at the Marysville Strawberry Festival. After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many were just happy the festival was up and running.

The festival would not be the same without its infamous strawberry shortcakes, which have been a tradition since the festival started in 1932.

Dale Smith, born in 1945, said he has been to more Marysville Strawberry Festivals than he can count. That includes festivals where fresh strawberries were hard to come by.

“I’ve seen so much of it all already, it isn’t new to me,” Smith said with a smile.

Smith is with Crystal Lodge #122, which he claims has run the strawberry shortcake operations at the Marysville Strawberry Festival for the past 25 years. A portion of all purchases goes toward funding scholarships for local teens.

“We’re investing in the future of our community,” said Howard Stevens, who was helping run the strawberry shortcake stand on behalf of Crystal Lodge #122. “You see a lot more kids these days, they’re talking about going to trade schools and doing things other than just the traditional (route). We allow them to use that money is a plus, too, because a lot of (other) scholarships are for four-year colleges.”

The Marysville Strawberry Festival started on Thursday and ends on Sunday night. You can find more details here.