Group aims to continue Loganberry children’s fun

One of the first things Bo Chernikoff thought of when he heard about the cancellation of the Loganberry Festival this year was the children.

One of the first things Bo Chernikoff thought of when he heard about the cancellation of the Loganberry Festival this year was the children.

The long-running event at Greenbank Farm traditionally offered numerous events for Whidbey Island kids. Chernikoff and others from his church organized the children’s entertainment.

“It’s so much fun to see these little kids having a ball,” Chernikoff said. “Quite a few of the helpers are grandparents like I am. A children’s joy is so transparent. You love to see that.”

When a conflict with another event prompted Loganberry Festival organizers to suspend the occasion this year, the elder board with the Whidbey Evangelical Free Church of Greenbank decided it wanted to do all it could to keep at least a portion intact.

So, from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 27, the church and Greenbank Farm are combining efforts to preserve the children’s entertainment aspect of the festival by offering a free event that will feature five bouncy houses, a pie-eating contest, dunk tank and other games.

They’re calling the event “Bounce Mania.”

Kids from 2-14 are allowed to participate but must be accompanied by an adult.

Bounce Mania will take place on the same weekend that the Loganberry Festival traditionally occurs but instead of two days will be condensed to one.

Officials with Greenbank Farm and Port of Coupeville announced in March they were canceling this year’s Loganberry Festival mostly because the Whidbey Island Area Fair moved to the end of July, leaving only one week between events. With the change, 4-H groups, featured at both events, would have been forced to choose.

While the future of the Loganberry Festival remains unclear, Bounce Mania is intended to continue with some of the festival’s most fun events.

Nearly 50 members of the Whidbey Evangelical Free Church will help run the event.

Face painting, a ring toss and golf putting are among the options for kids.

Food vendors also will be on hand and Whidbey Pies & Cafe will be open.

“Maybe we can keep it going and next year make it bigger and better and make it for the (whole) family,” said Chernikoff, one of elders of the church, which has run the children’s events at the festival for at least a decade.

Greenbank Farm officials will continue to run the popular pie-eating contest, including a competition for adults, too.

Also for adults, a wine and cheese pairing will take place with author Kristin Ohlson on hand to give a reading of her book, “The Soil Will Save Us,” at 2 p.m. The book explores new ways in which farmers are tending their soil in an attempt to reserve global warming. A discussion will follow Ohlson’s reading.

“We are hoping that people interested in farming will talk about the practices she describes in her book,” said Judy Feldman, executive director of the Green Bank Farm.

Feldman said she’s excited that children’s activities will be held and the pie-eating contest preserved to help make up for some of the disappointment from the Loganberry Festival’s suspension.

She said blueberries will be used in the competition instead of loganberries.

“We’ll save the loganberry pie-eating contest for when the Loganberry Festival rears its head again,” she said.

Whether that will be in 2015 should be known in the fall, she said.

Feldman directs the Greenbank Management Group, a nonprofit that operates the farm. The management group’s contract with the Port of Coupeville expires next summer, but she expects the port could make a decision on who will get the new contract at its October meeting because the deadline for bid proposals is in late September.

“It would be presumptive on our part,” Feldman said of planning for a 2015 festival.

She said if the port continues to allow the Greenbank Management Group to operate the farm, there would still be plenty of time to plan for a festival next year.