Eastside Heritage Center Programs
Annual Bellevue Strawberry Festival
EHC’s signature event is the annual Strawberry Festival in Bellevue. Begun in 1987 as a small scale revival of the 1920s-‘40s local community event, the Festival has grown exponentially, with an attendance of 6,000 in 2004, to over 40,000 in 2010. The Strawberry Festival celebrates the region’s agricultural heritage, as well as its diverse cultural past, present and future. Located in Bellevue’s Crossroads International Park, it includes a Mini-Museum showcasing artifacts from EHC’s vast collection, hands-on history for children, over 80 food and craft vendors, live entertainment, fresh strawberry shortcake, a classic auto show and a myriad of family-oriented games and activities. With the help of more than 150 volunteers (over 90% are local high school students), EHC has made this a major opportunity to bring heritage experiences to Eastside residents from many diverse backgrounds.
EHC presents local history programs to a wide variety of community groups, senior centers, schools and neighborhood associations. These engaging programs make use of EHC's extensive photo and archival collection, and cover a range of Eastside history topics.
Oral History Program
EHC has a collection of 197 oral histories and continues to conduct interviews with new subjects in an effort to capture the first-hand accounts of the area’s longtime residents and business leaders. These oral histories are made accessible to the public through our archives, and provide invaluable information on the history and development of the Eastside.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Over the past two years, EHC has increased its presence in Eastside schools. In addition to maintaining an active Treasure Box program of artifacts and suggested activities aligned to Washington State standards for elementary aged school children, EHC has recently engaged with middle-school students through a partnership with the Bellevue School District. EHC supplements Bellevue’s eighth grade social studies curriculum by providing primary source documents for the unit “Strawberry Fields Forever,” in which students analyze archival materials to identify Bellevue’s response to social and economic changes between 1930 and the present. EHC also collaborates with the seventh grade social studies program for a curriculum lesson entitled “Change Over Time: The Lowering of Lake Washington,” in which students learn about the engineering feat of lowering Lake Washington in the early 20th century and how it impacted the residents of the Eastside.
EHC maintains and preserves a collection of over 30,000 artifacts, photographs and archival material pertaining to the history of the Eastside. It is this collection that enables EHC to offer educational and public programming, develop interpretive displays and exhibits and provide research services to the community. Stewardship of the collection is a great responsibility. Preserving and maintaining the collection involves the cost of archival supplies, storage, and salaries for professional staff, totaling approximately $50,000 per year. Sustained support funding to ensure the continued preservation and appropriate storage for the collection is critical to fulfilling our mission.