Lake Stevens volunteer carries the water for Aquafest

LAKE STEVENS — Over the past 53 years, a small lakeside celebration called Aquafest has grown into a family festival drawing as many as 40,000 visitors each year to Lake Stevens.

This year, though, was special for Aquafest volunteer Sue Fernalld, 65.

Sure, she served as Aquafest president, but it wasn’t just that. All of her grandchildren got to help at the event, which was held last weekend.

Fernalld, a retired budget analyst, has run the children’s parade at the festival for the past eight years. She started volunteering there nine months after she and her husband, Dennis, moved to Lake Stevens to be closer to their family. Her grandson was young, and she wanted to get involved with Aquafest.

“I thought, ‘Oh man, what a really cool thing for families,’” she said. “I just wanted to see what it was about, and it was a really cool thing.”

She also wanted to use the experience as a way to meet people in town, she said.

A lot of Aquafest visitors grew up in Lake Stevens and cherish their memories of the festival as children and teenagers, Fernalld said.

“I do it because I have a love for the community, and I get such a thrill out of the children’s parade and the families coming to Lake Stevens,” she said. “I have always advocated for inexpensive things for families to do in this community, and this community rallies around Aquafest.”

Two of her grandchildren, Macray Flanders, 8, and Colby Flanders, 5, live in Snohomish. Both their parents teach in the Lake Stevens School District.

Two more, Drew Flanders, 6, and Elsie Flanders, 4, live in Indiana. Their father came to Lake Stevens earlier in July to compete in the Ironman event. The family decided to stay in town through Aquafest — to Grandma’s delight.

The week before the fair, she put the kids to work. They helped stuff about 350 goodie bags to give to children’s parade participants.

Fernalld puts in a ton of work behind the scenes, said Janice Huxford, who is a past Aquafest president and owner of Snohomish Valley Roofing Inc., a festival sponsor.

“Sue’s a firecracker,” Huxford said. “She brings a lot of enthusiasm. She has creative ideas, and she works tirelessly to bring in new fresh approaches to a festival that’s 53 years old now.”

Fernalld worked with police and others to keep the event running smooth, increased the number of sponsors, and found new ways to attract families with small children, Huxford said.

“She likes to ‘checklist,’” Huxford said. “She likes to get things done. … She is tireless in getting things done once and done right.”

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

Volunteer with Aquafest

For more information about volunteering for Aquafest 2014, go to aquafest.com.

The festival’s needs include people with sports experience and people to help with set up and clean up.

The festival is funded and supported by local businesses, sponsorships and volunteers.

More in Local News

A customer walks away after buying a hot dog from a vendor on 33rd St and Smith Street near the Everett Station on Friday. The Everett Station District Alliance pictures the area east of Broadway and south of Hewitt Avenue as a future neighborhood and transit hub that could absorb expected population growth. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
How can Everett Station become a vibrant part of city?

A neighborhood alliance focused on long-term revitalization will update the public Tuesday.

Agency didn’t expect such big demand for needle clean-up kits

The Snohomish Health District ran out of supplies quickly, but more are arriving daily.

EvCC teachers take their contract concerns to the board

Their union says negotiations have been disappointingly slow. The community college isn’t commenting.

Here’s what to do if you want to vote and aren’t registered

Oct. 30 is the deadline for new-voter registration in time for the November election.

Two teens struck by truck in Lynnwood

The teens, between the ages of 14 and 16, were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Luring attempt reported in Mountlake Terrace

The driver allegedly instructed a boy to get in the truck and help grab a scooter he was giving away.

Injured hiker rescued near Granite Falls

Woman fell and hit her head on a rock Saturday, and her condition worsened overnight.

Man arrested after police find van full of drugs, cash and guns

An officer on patrol noticed a vehicle by itself in the middle of a WinCo parking lot at 2 a.m.

Crews recover body of man who fell over Wallace Falls

The area where the man fell is called Sky Valley Lookout, 2.4 miles from the parking lot.

Most Read