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Pig roast attracts 1,200

Oak Harbor City Councilman Rick Almberg gets dunked during Sunday’s Block Party. - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor City Councilman Rick Almberg gets dunked during Sunday’s Block Party.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

$10,000 split between two charities

Who would have thought so many people would have shown up for free food?

No surprise, perhaps, but people flocked to Sunday afternoon’s inaugural Fidalgo Avenue Block Party and Pig Roast.

Approximately 1,200 people came to downtown Oak Harbor and celebrated the block party that produced gaiety and filled bellies from 1 to 7 p.m.

“It was better than we ever could have imagined, said Scott Fraser, owner of Frasers Gourmet Hideaway, who also organized the event.

Volunteers prepared 450 pounds of pork that was served during the free meal. When dinner was ready at around 3 p.m., the line of hungry people started at the tent, which was at the midpoint of the block, stretched down to Hathaway Street and up to the Help House’s food storage garage.

Fraser said that he ran out of pork after serving 1,170 people when there were still about 30 people left in line. Fortunately there was more than enough of the remaining dishes to leave people satisfied.

More than a meal, the Block Party provided a whole host of activities for people of all ages.

“It was totally meant to be a fun family event,” Fraser said.

Bands performed throughout the day and children and adults alike enjoyed sack races, face paintings, hoop shoot and food contests.

Oak Harbor resident John Fowkes heard about the party from his sister and decided to attend. He was looking forward to watching the hot dog eating contest. He ended up entering the contest along with his son, Wolly, and they surprised themselves by winning the contest.

Prior to the hot dogs, 14-year-old Cody Hernkind won the pie-eating contest.

While gorging themselves on food, folks also had a chance to dunk their favorite elected officials.

Mayor Jim Slowik spent 20 minutes in a dunk tank. Members of the Oak Harbor City Council followed him into the chilly water.

“I guess if I wasn’t all wet before I was mayor, now I am,” Slowik joked as he was drying off after being dunked.

Councilmen Rick Almberg and Jim Palmer shared a spot on the dunk tank bench. One of the first people in line buying balls was Slowik, who wasn’t afraid to cheat. He made sure they got wet by running up and pressing the button.

Fraser began planning for the Block Party about two months ago. When his restaurant, Frasers Gourmet Hideaway, celebrated its first anniversary last year, he was surprised when 350 people attended an open house marking the occasion. When he wanted to mark the anniversary this year, he got the other businesses on Fidalgo Avenue involved to put together something bigger.

In addition to hours of fun, the party served as a fundraiser for two nonprofit organizations headquartered on the block — the American Red Cross of Island County and the Help House.

“This is our neighborhood and this is why we’re showing them off,” Fraser said. Fidalgo is one street up from Pioneer Way, and the party introduced many people to a new part of town.

The two charities are getting a huge boost from the block party. With the pig roast, raffle, dunk tank and games, approximately $10,000 was raised that will be split between the two organizations.

Fraser said the party was a big success and that he is planning to hold the same celebration next year.

“I think it’s going to get bigger and bigger every year,” said Roger Anglun, owner of Smoke Free BBQ Catering, while he was helping Fraser prepare the pork Saturday afternoon. That thought seemed to be shared by everyone.

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