BURLINGTON — As 11 o’clock grew nearer, all the best seats for the Berry Dairy Days Grand Parade had been claimed by thousands of families and their squirmy children, their bags and buckets ready to receive the copious amounts of candy to be thrown throughout the procession.

Now in its 81st year, Berry Dairy Days continues to celebrate Burlington’s history of agricultural and farming communities, touting strawberry shortcake, Kiwanis Salmon BBQ, live music, a fireworks show and more.

With roots that deep, many locals recall attending the festival when they were children.

“I’ve been coming on and off for 30 years,” said Chris Taylor of Burlington, holding his young daughter Saturday. “My dad used to do the run in the morning and then we’d stay all day.”

Now, he said, the event is something to do for his two kids. As he looked on, his older daughter rushed to scoop up a Tootsie Roll that had just hit the pavement.

Burlington City Administrator Bryan Harrison said Berry Dairy Days is for community members like Taylor and his family.

“Burlington does so much for tourists,” he said. “This is for the people of Burlington.”

And though locals do keep coming back, the festival also attracts those from further away, including Vancouver, B.C., and even New Hampshire.

Sitting on a grassy patch, looking like she’d just got done taking a stroll in the park instead of running the Berry Dairy Days half-marathon, sat ultramarathon runner Sabrina Houck of Bellingham. This was her first time at the festival, and she brought her New Hampshire family along for the ride.

Her sister and two nephews sat nearby under the clear blue sky as the scent of kettle corn wafted through the breeze.

“It was beautiful passing all the farm land and agriculture,” Houck said. “I’m excited to see what this festival has to offer.”

Back at the parade, Grace Trzebski of Vancouver, B.C., perched in the shade with her black lab. She said she heard about the festival on the internet and had come for the strawberry shortcake.

Shortly after, floats, marchers, tractors and horses began making their way down Fairhaven Avenue. A jovial clown waltzed along carrying a bouquet of noses.

“You can pick your own nose or I can pick it for you,” he said, leaning down to a little boy who looked back at his father with a grin.

The festival concludes today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring the Berry Cool Car Show.

— Reporter Leah Allen: 360-416-2149, lallen@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Leah_SVH

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