Loganberry Festival draws a sweet crowd

Kelly Uhlig shares a laugh with her fellow pie-eating contestant Saturday. Uhlig didn’t win first place, but still enjoyed the return of the adult loganberry pie-eating contest. - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Kelly Uhlig shares a laugh with her fellow pie-eating contestant Saturday. Uhlig didn’t win first place, but still enjoyed the return of the adult loganberry pie-eating contest.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

GREENBANK — Loganberry Festival brought a crowd, even if it didn’t have many loganberries.

A full parking lot and a steady stream of cars waiting to get in to the farm’s annual thank-you celebration to the community made for a bustling event. And though loganberries were short of plentiful, organizers had enough for the pie-eating contests for the kids and the return of the pie-eating contests for adults.

True to tradition, some of the greatest gobblers came from off-island.

Two of Saturday’s pie-eating winners were not Whidbey Island residents. Saturday’s adult pie-eating queen was Sally Slotterback of Lavelle, Penn., and the kids contest winner was Declan Garmon of Phoenix, Ariz.

The hit food vendor was all-Whidbey, though.

Smoke billowed from the grill and the smoker. The scent wafted through the air at Greenbank Farm, and the line stretched far from the serving table down food alley. Barbecue was the main attraction in the food vendors’ aisle at Loganberry Festival on Saturday, and ShoNuff Foods had plenty of it.

“As long as the lines are there, I don’t complain,” said owner and cook Fred Bennett.

Bennett and his wife, Barb, own and operate ShoNuff at various markets and fairs around Island County. The Oak Harbor residents don’t have a restaurant, which suits their two children just fine.

But where there’s smoke, there’s De’Andre, 11, and Tamara, 9. De’Andre worked the grill and the smoker while his mom and dad, plus aunt Ana Toussaint, prepared pulled pork, chicken, brisket sandwiches and ribs.

“I’m kind of like their sub,” De’Andre said, who added that he helps his dad however he can. “I’m their runner.”

Tamara, who spent most of her time on the tailgate of their truck, said she’s a helper, too, though her assistance seemed to be more of the sidewalk supervisor kind.

The Bennetts needed all the help they could get as the line became as thick as their blend of mesquite and oak smoke. The festival opened at 10 a.m., and by noon, ShoNuff had cooked 100 pounds of beef, chicken and pork. Fred Bennett estimated they’d go through 250 to 400 pounds by the end of the festival Sunday.

This year’s attendance figures were no doubt helped by summer weather making one of its rare and surprise appearances this season.

Julie Rosten, the farm’s bookkeeper, estimated 6,000 people attended the festival. The parking lots were full, with a line of cars stretching from the lot to Highway 525.

“This year’s the best (attended) ever,” Rosten said.

The free festival — parking was $3 — drew crowds from across Whidbey. One Coupeville family came down for it after seeing a flier. Vince and Melissa Lemke recently moved to

Whidbey Island. Vince, a Marine, is stationed in Oak Harbor. They took the day to enjoy some family time at the festival.

“We haven’t had the opportunity with deployments,” Lemke said.

His wife Melissa saw the flier at her job at Keystone Café. The couple moved here from Colorado and is looking to settle in for at least three years and find activities with their daughter, Madilyn, 3.

“We’re doing all the stuff since we’re new here,” she said.

Madilyn was entranced by a water fountain that shot floating red balls sky high. She discovered the mechanism’s cause-and-effect after three tries, then monopolized the fountain’s red ball shooting schedule as she watched, wide-grinned and laughing.

She wasn’t alone.

Kelly Uhlig of Sonshine Farm was all smiles as she spun Merino wool at one of the vendor displays. Her family’s farm raises alpacas and Kiko goats, and this year’s festival theme of “Back to the Farm” meant more than a barnyard full of agricultural activities.

The farm share program was prominently on display, and many festival-goers took farm tours of Greenbank’s offerings. One of the largest and most showy additions was the horse arena, complete with dancing horses and equestrian tricks.

One thing that’s sure to go back to the farm is money. Rosten estimated Greenbank Farm raised $6,000 from parking fees and donations.

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