It’s not too often that an all-volunteer organization in a town with a population of less than 2,000 can say they’ve given $816,000 back to their community. That’s some serious bragging rights, and exactly what the Coupeville Arts & Crafts Festival has accomplished.
When the festival began over 50 years ago, the proceeds were kept in a shoebox. Now, the shape of those dollars has transformed into street improvements, historic restoration, scholarships, grants, beautification and more.
The festival is only one part of the equation.
“The community comes together to make it happen,” said Mike Dessert, President of the Arts & Crafts Festival. “The city is a huge help, and the goodwill of the merchant businesses and other organizations all have a hand in making this event successful.” They include organizations like the City of Coupeville, the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce, the Boys & Girls Club, Peoples Bank, Knead & Feed, Whidbey Telecom, Whidbey News Times, Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle & Charter, Corey Oil and Propane, Big Rock Designs & Print, Moxie Creek, Windermere Real Estate, Puget Sound Energy and fire and emergency services.
At the 2014 festival, over 250 individuals volunteered almost 1,500 hours of their time. And that doesn’t even include committee volunteers and the hours they put in throughout the year. In two days, 15,000 visitors wander into Coupeville, and volunteer help is much appreciated. “Without the volunteers, we’d have no festival,” said Dessert.
Volunteer shifts are short and the festival is always happy to have more help. Volunteering is also an added bonus for students seeking funds for higher education, as it’s one of the requirements to apply for one of the four $1,500 scholarships awarded each year.
This year, the Festival takes place from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. on Saturday, Aug. 1 and from 10 a. m. to 5 p. m on Sunday, Aug. 2. If this seems earlier than previous years, it is. That’s because the festival coordinates with the three-day Anacortes Arts Festival, which runs Aug. 7-9.
The Wine Reception and Juried Art Gallery will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 31 at Bayleaf Deli and is run by the Pacific Northwest Art School. Tickets are $20 and include a wine reception, hors d’oeuvres and a commemorative wine glass.
Saturday’s and Sunday’s attendees will be able to peruse 185 vendors with a plethora of artistic creations that range from paintings, photography, fiber arts, metal work, woodworking, beauty products, toys and more. Forkedelic’s jewelry pieces are made out of vintage silver. J. Nicoll Designs creates distinct and fun clothing. Carla’s Funky Art is whimsical and bright. And Paul Nzalamba’s African Batiks tell powerful stories.
“There is a rigorous jury process to keep the art high-quality and unique products made by the artist,” Dessert said.
Diverse items can also be found at local merchant booths, such as Arcadia Woodworks’ personalized stools and bookstands, Art of Stone’s garden sculptures and untraditional baskets by Baskets of Oz.
Interested in seeing what foods, entertainers or artistic creations might catch your fancy? With the interactive Vendor list on the Coupeville Arts & Crafts festival website (click the dark blue box on the top right: http://coupevillefestival.com), it’s just a click away.
In the food court delectable selections range from Pacific Northwest and beyond, like salmon burgers, mussels, BBQ, brats, lumpia, Thai spring rolls, ice cream and kettle corn. They open each day at 9:30 a.m. and a large tent is provided to keep everyone cool and shaded. On the streets, local restaurants also show off their specialties, like The Oystercatcher’s oysters and fresh baked bread, Knead & Feed’s walnut caramel roll or berry pie and Mosquito Fleet Chili’s lemonade and pecan cinnamon rolls.
Three times a day—at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.—everyone can get their groove on with a musical line-up that will include bands like Whidbey’s own bluegrass band—the Bayview Sound Quartet, rhythm and jazz with Mike Faast and the Fabulous Archtops and rockabilly with The Roy Kay Trio.
Kids can get hands-on by making their own T-shirts, or crafty at the Creation Station. In the Wine & Beer Garden, overlooking Coupeville Wharf and Penn Cove, adults can relax and sip tasty beverages from Whidbey Island Winery and beer from Flyers Restaurant.
Whether you’re a local or a tourist checking out the scene, the Coupeville Arts & Crafts Festival offers something for everyone—be it shopping, dancing, tasting, appreciating art in all its forms—or volunteering to assist while others check out the sights.
Image at top: One of the many aisles of merchants’ booths at the Festival (photo courtesy of the festival)
Lara Dunning is a freelance writer. She has been published in The Crossing Guide, the Anacortes Scene and Waggoner’s Pacific Northwest Boating. Her interests include young adult novels, history, hiking and locavore inspired food.
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