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Party in the Park

Summer fun with the Co-op
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If you’re in a hurry, shopping at Bellingham’s Community Food Co-ops can be a risky endeavor. This isn’t because it’s impossible to find the organic onions or track down the bin numbers on your bulk purchases, but because it’s inevitable that you’ll run into someone—or many someones—you know, necessitating that you take at least a few minutes to catch up.

While socializing in the wine aisle is all well and good, the powers that be at the Co-op are well aware that sometimes it’s nice to take more than a fast second to find out what your friends and acquaintances have been up to. It’s one of the reasons they decided, 16 years ago, to host an all-inclusive summertime soiree.

Karl Meyer, the Co-op’s Community Affairs Coordinator and a member of the New Old Time Chautauqua—who will present their vaudevillian circus acts along with the juggling prowess of the Flying Karamazov Brothers at the big event Sun., July 28 at Maritime Heritage Park—says he asked a few of the store’s longtime employees what the initial impetus was to host the shindig.

“They all basically said the same thing—which was to bring the community together and have some summer fun,” Meyer says. “They lined up some bands and had that first event at Boulevard Park 15 years ago. The event was focused on gathering our community, celebrating summer and enjoying some of the best of Bellingham. It was a great success, was deemed a worthy endeavor of our Co-op, and so continues to this day.”

While the biggest difference in this year’s event will be the location—it’s been moved to Maritime Heritage Park while Boulevard Park undergoes necessary renovations—Meyer says many of the highlights of the gathering will remain the same: The party will still be free to everyone (you don’t have to be a member to shop at the Co-op, or come to the gathering), will feature some amazing entertainment (in addition to the Chautauqua, there’ll also be music by Hot Damn Scandal and the Lucky Brown Band), will offer fun times for kids (via face painting, a recycled art station helmed by RE Store employees and fun crafts), and will still feature an info fair highlighting dozens of the area’s nonprofits.

And, while the $3 vegetarian burritos that are for sale are always a huge draw, Meyer says his favorite part of the happening is experiencing it with likeminded humans.

“I learned a long time ago that by celebrating and coming together at events like this we seem to get a lift and a sense of renewal in the way we see and experience community,” Meyer says. “I especially enjoy the way the Community Food Co-op events draw upon a diverse slice of the surrounding area that includes both the county folks and the town folks. I remember thinking at one of these Co-op-sponsored events in the past that this is where you can be with your greatest number of friends and acquaintances who share a similar way of living.

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In other words, if you’re out shopping this week, and are rushed for time, don’t worry about cutting off your catch-up conversations a little early. Just respond with something along the lines of, “Oh, I’ll see you at the party on Sunday, right?” and move along. Then, come the big event, find a sunny area to sit and invite your friends to join you. Once you’re there, you can spend as long as you need to socializing—at least until the next time you run into them in the produce aisle.

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