It’s high noon on the last Sunday of February in the tiny town of Edison, WA. Do you know where your chicken hat is?
Welcome to the annual and beloved Edison Chicken Parade! This event, held for the wonderful purpose of bringing the community together was started about eight years ago by a local couple who wanted to celebrate bringing people together to coincide with the annual bird festival that celebrates the rich diversity of avian life in the Skagit Valley.
Francine Price, a local resident combines her skills as a knitter with her love of poultry and knits fabulous chicken hats that each come with their own name. My version is a brown speckled beauty named Henrietta. I receive only the highest of compliments whenever Henrietta accompanies me into the field.
If you have never ventured into the quaint town of Edison, recently dubbed “The Kindness Town”, you are truly missing out on a tiny town with a truly strange history.
Located just under 30 minutes from Bellingham, this special hamlet offers more than what one might expect from a town with a population just shy of 300 souls.
Edison was first settled in 1869 by a man named Ben Samson. He named the settlement after Thomas Edison, the famous inventor and creator of the light bulb.
In 1897, out of the financial panic of 1893, a Utopian socialist project called The Equality Colony was established in Edison. After 280 acres of land was purchased for the colony for the sum of $2,854.16, a sawmill was established to produce enough lumber from the cleared timber to start building homes for the colony residents. Anyone was welcome, wages were equal (even for women) and anyone wishing to be a part of the colony needed to pay a one-time membership fee of $160. (Cipalla, 2019)
Equality Colony was but one commune that sprung out of the main branch known as The Brotherhood of the Cooperative Commonwealth. Most of these cooperatives died out shortly after their inception, but Equality Colony held on until their ranks reached 300 members. After the group could not agree on how best to organize their operations and the main barn burned down due to suspected arson, the group officially disbanded in 1907.
The end of the Equality Colony was noted in the New York Times in an article dated April 25, 1907. “Equality,’ a Socialist colony established in 1897, was wiped out of existence by a court order yesterday, Judge Joyner of Skagit County directing that the property be sold to pay the colony’s debts. The property consists of 600 acres of land, a sawmill, a printing plant, and twenty dwellings” (“Socialist Colony A Failure”). (Cipalla, 2019)
It is not the first time nor the last that the charming town of Edison would attract national media attention. In 2017 an article appeared in Food and Wine with food writer David Landsel stating that tiny Edison to be “one of the best places to eat in the Pacific Northwest.” With monthly Paella Parties being offered at the delectable and outrageously charming spot, Slough Foods, one cannot deny this statement to be true. Nearby Mariposa Cantina offers some of the best Mexican Cuisine I have ever experienced and for a lovely evening after bird watching, the newly opened Cob and Cork is not to be missed. The also full of charm, Rhododendron Café has been a mainstay since 1984. Pub fare paired with excellent microbrew and spirits can be had at Terramar who just recently won awards at the San Francisco World Spirits and ADI International Spirits Competition, the 2022 Sip Award for Best in the Northwest and the 2022 Washington Beer award for their Octopus Garden Gose and their Apricity Saison. If a pet friendly option is more your speed, the Longhorn Saloon offers excellent pub fare with a back yard where well-mannered pups are welcomed to roam. Before you leave the Kindness Town, be sure to grab some bakery goods from The Great Harvest Bread Company.
From domesticated birds to the greatest wild birds that Washington state has to offer, there is no place like the Skagit Valley to soak up the incredible sights along with enjoying the quirky, wonderful artist haven that Edison has become.
See you out there!
Cipalla, R. (2019, May 30). HistoryLink. Retrieved from Edison — Thumbnail History: https://www.historylink.org/File/20788
Stayton, M. (2013, December 31). GoSkagit.com. Retrieved from New owner for the Rhody Cafe: https://www.goskagit.com/all_access/new-owner-for-the-rhody-cafe/article
Terrmar. (n.d.). Terrmar Brewing and Distilling. Retrieved from Terrmar Brewing and Distilling: https://www.terramarcraft.com/