BURLINGTON — Celebrating 80 years, Berry Dairy Days did not disappoint in turnout Saturday with packed parking for blocks off of Fairhaven Avenue as thousands lined the streets to watch the annual parade and partake in festivities.
The festival kicked off Friday with food, live music and a fireworks show at Skagit River Park. On Saturday, events began in the morning with the half-marathon, 5K and 10K and a parade that followed.
Attendees included long-time Burlington residents as well as visitors from other parts of the state and beyond, including self-proclaimed "half-marathon fanatics" Tiare and Nick Bailey of Port Ludlow. They ran in their 75th race in six years.
Tiare said she enjoyed the Burlington course for the half-marathon and said it was very beautiful.
"I just love the movement, it's like meditation," she said of running. "I like the freedom, scenery and seeing different towns."
The festivities even brought guests from outside the country. Sandra Delnea came with her family from Hope, British Columbia.
"Last year, our daughter was here and did the half-marathon and said it was just such a fun event ... they talked me into running (at the festival)," she said.
Delnea, who finished third in the 5K, said she and her family enjoy exploring the Skagit County area.
"This is an amazing festival for all ages, it's really great," she said.
Berry Dairy Days is known for its tradition of celebrating the area's agricultural heritage, a theme reflected in Saturday’s parade.
Onlookers had the chance to not only see members of the Sedro-Woolley Rodeo riding horses down Fairhaven Avenue, but dozens of tractors and farming gear.
Because the event originally started as a fundraiser for the Burlington Fire Department, the festival honored that history by making past and present firefighters the parade grand marshals, Elli Haddick of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce said.
"It means a lot that such a great thing has kept up through the years," Haddick said.
The parade also included local companies and agencies, members of the Burlington-Edison High School Class of 1947 and others with ties to the community including local high school students.
Though visitors came from afar, Burlington locals came out in high numbers as well. Marlene Bellinger and husband John Bellinger said they like to attend the festival to support the city — and for the food.
"It's all about the food," she said, laughing with her Dotson named Daisy in her hands.
Marlene said the strawberry shortcake and the salmon barbecue are some of the best parts of the festivities, as well as seeing everyone participate.
"It's fun and neat to see all the people come out," she said.
Berry Dairy Days will run until 3 p.m. Sunday. The Berry Cool Car Show, featuring more than 100 classic and custom cars and trucks, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. along Fairhaven Avenue.