Lifestyle

What happened to Arty

Meiko Parton shows what the Arty costume looks like today. A battery-powered fan keeps the costume inflated to its roly-poly size.  - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
Meiko Parton shows what the Arty costume looks like today. A battery-powered fan keeps the costume inflated to its roly-poly size.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

Arty the Artichoke was designed for Oak Harbor’s two-year drive to create a regional festival named “Arts and Artichokes” in the 1990s.

Today, the 30-pound, inflatable suit is part of the Whidbey Playhouse Annex collection.

The suit was designed by Oak Harbor resident Ken Moody, whose company Visual Image built large specialty balloons for parades and events.

The festival was short-lived, and its unique theme drew some public criticism. Here’s what News-Times writer Mike Page-English had to say in 1998:

“Which raises the issue: Why artichokes?

Random gardeners on Whidbey Island may grow artichokes, but Oak Harbor is hardly known for them. Wouldn’t the ‘Acorn and Arts Festival’ or the ‘Windmill Festival’ capture the local flavor a bit more?”

Although Arty’s run as festival mascot has ended, people can still dress up as an artichoke impersonator this Halloween. Volunteers dubbed it “the weirdest costume available.”

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