What do we want Mukilteo to be? l Our View

By Beacon Staff | Feb 06, 2019

As we reported in last week’s paper, the Mukilteo Farmers Market will be taking the summer off.

In talking to one of the market’s board members, we learned that money wasn’t the issue. It was a lack of community support in terms of volunteers.

The hope is the market will use the time off to acquire more “day-of” volunteers to help run the weekly market starting again in 2020.

“The core group of volunteers began to retract. We tried to get more volunteers in 2018,” board member Mimi Landsberg said. “I had wanted to take a step back. I’m there every Wednesday, and that’s a lot. I have to close my business ... Other board members said they couldn’t do it. We just don’t have returning volunteers.”

After posting the story on social media, we’ve seen a lot of people sad and upset that there won’t be an opportunity to purchase kettle corn and vegetables from the market this summer.

“Having moved here just last year, I must say that this makes me very sad,” a Facebook commenter said. “I loved the excellent quality of the fruits and vegetables, friendly vendors, and warm sense of community.”

However, through a demographic study via EBT cards, it was revealed that most market patrons were not Mukilteo residents.

This week, we learned there will be some significant cutbacks with this year’s Lighthouse Festival, too. There won’t be a parade, and there won’t be the Run-A-Muk 5K and 10K, either.

Prior to last year’s Lighthouse Festival, former Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce CEO Julie Martin told us that costs to run the festival are higher than ever, and there haven’t been enough sponsorships or help from local businesses and residents.

“In past years, businesses sponsored the community involvement and exposure,” Martin said. “The last two years (2016 and 2017), many of our previous sponsors and those we have approached have indicated that it is a hardship for them to staff a booth all weekend, that they have to pay overtime, etc.”

In 2017, the festival made less money than it cost to put on the three-day event, and a grant from the city of Mukilteo was the only reason they broke even.

Just like the Farmers Market, getting new volunteers is an issue, too.

“The Lighthouse Festival is a community celebration that is planned and run by volunteers,” Martin said. “Many of the board members and committee chairs will be cycling off the board after this year, and the festival is having a difficult time covering the expenses. Yes, there is a possibility that if it does not receive financial and volunteer support that it could become much smaller or not happen in the future.”

This brings us to the question presented in the headline: What do we want Mukilteo to be?

If you talk to new residents about why they decided to move to Mukilteo, you’ll usually hear the same answers: quality of schools, public safety, and a small, connected community.

Communities are, in large part, defined by what makes them unique.

A few things that make Mukilteo unique? There’s the Lighthouse Festival, the Mukilteo Farmers Market, and the Mukilteo Lighthouse.

Speaking of the lighthouse, as well as its gift shop, do you know how those stay open to the public? That’s right, volunteers.

The Mukilteo Historical Society’s volunteers run tours of the lighthouse, as well as the lighthouse’s gift shop.

Mukilteo has changed dramatically over the last few years, and will continue to change with the opening of the new ferry terminal as well as the addition of commercial air service at Paine Field.

This isn’t the same town that many residents remember, and if people are OK with that, then so be it.

But if events like the Farmers Market and Lighthouse Festival go away due to a lack of community support, there’s no one to blame but us for allowing it to get to that point in the first place.

Hopefully, bringing to light the lack of volunteers and support for the Farmers Market as well as the Lighthouse Festival will prompt those with some free time to help the organizations out.

If not, what makes Mukilteo unique may cease to exist, and Mukilteo may be defined as that town with the ferry.

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