More than 600 people attended the inaugural Kingston Lavender Festival at Kingston House, a wedding and event venue in North Kitsap June 2016. (Tasha Vanasse / Contributed)

Kingston Lavender Festival is June 23-25 | Kitsap Weekly cover story

KINGSTON — As the sun begins to peek its bright head out for longer periods of time in the Pacific Northwest, it’s time to find excuses to linger outside, soaking up the rays and breathing the fresh air.

Though the Pacific Northwest is in remission after one of the rainiest seasons in history, the curious microclimate represents some of the world’s best conditions for growing lavender, or “Lavandula officinalis.” (The name lavender is derived from the Latin root “lavare,” meaning “to wash.” It quite possibly earned its name because of its popularity in baths to help purify the body and spirit).

And while nearby Sequim is known as the lavender capital of North America, there’s a bouquet of local opportunities to enjoy the versatility of this unique and beautiful plant.

Kingston Lavender Festival organizer Matt Kelley said, “Our region just happens to be one of the world’s best places to grow lavender. For more than 20 years, the Sequim Lavender Festival has hosted a world-famous festival.”

While Kingston “can’t compare” to the size and scope of Sequim’s festival, Kelley said, the Kingston Lavender Festival reflects the charm of small-town life in North Kitsap while being a full hour closer than Sequim.

“Our event is much more low-key,” he said. “It’s just a fun way for our neighbors and community to get together. Also, due to North Kitsap’s unique microclimate, our lavender festival is during the first weekend of summer — a full month before Sequim’s festival. That way, folks can attend both.”

Many people appreciate the beauty, abundant fragrance and healing properties of lavender. Lavender from the Kingston House Lavender Farm is sold as fresh and dried bundles in several North Kitsap County shops, online and at farm stands.

“I think [lavender] inspires passionate responses because almost everything about lavender is pretty intense — its strong fragrance, its showy flowers, and the bold colors,” Kelley said. “Since I love all of those aspects, it’s not surprising that I’m such a big fan.”

In terms of its popularity, Kelley suspected, “It doesn’t hurt that it’s a pretty hardy plant that’s easy to grow once established.”

In 2016, Kingston House welcomed the public to their first annual Kingston Lavender Festival. Local bands, food trucks, workshops and U-cut lavender experiences combined for an enjoyable community event with some 600 participants to celebrate the sun, agriculture and that beautiful looking — and smelling — purple plant.

At the second annual Kingston Lavender Festival, you too can celebrate the tranquility and adaptability of lavender in a variety of fun experiences for the whole family, June 23-25.

Mark your calendar for the fun as both local and visiting guests are welcomed to Kingston House. The 15-acre park-like wedding and event venue ocated at 25300 Miller Bay Rd. NE Kingston, is just five minutes from the Edmonds-Kingston ferry and a 13-mile drive from Bainbridge Island.

Conveniently close to the Olympic Peninsula as well as the Seattle area, the family-run destination venue hosts a working lavender farm with more than 2,000 fragrant lavender plants representing popular English and hybrid varieties, including Hidcote Giant, Hidcote Blue, Grosso and Folgate.

This year, the Kingston Lavender Festival offers an exciting arrangement of dinner soirées, U-cut opportunities, plant sales, workshops, live music and food trucks and tours.

Kicking off the festival Friday, June 23, join Kingston House for a Provence-inspired, summer soirée amongst Kingston House’s rows of fragrant and blooming lavender bushes. An intimate group of 50 guests will enjoy a vivacious menu by Chef Sunshine Dunning atop beautiful farm tables handcrafted by Olympic Farm Style Events. Tickets are $100.

Meet fellow guests with a pre-dinner reception featuring hors d’oeuvres, a lavender sparkling cocktail and private tours of Kingston House by owner Kinam Sohn.

Organized by Huguette Marsicano of French Moods, the dinner consists of a four-course menu including an assortment of appetizers, entrees and delectable desserts.

“Experiencing a dinner like they would have in Provence, tasting the flavors of the region through the wonderful cuisine of Chef Sunshine … The lavender will be in bloom and will surround the long communal table,” Marsicano said. “This will be the opportunity to meet with all people involved with putting the event together and a French native from Provence (me) will be telling stories about the region, best places to visit, etc.

“The cocktail hour will be the occasion to discover the beautiful grounds of Kingston House with a visit by the owner and the story of the estate. Finally we are planning on giving a lavender gift to each guest to thank them for attending the dinner and trusting us to provide a wonderful experience. We are all excited about the evening.”

The feast, overlooking fields of lavender, will be accompanied by South of France stories from Provence-native, Huguette Marsicano and the smooth French-inspired Gypsy Jazz by Silk Road Swing.

For dessert, enjoy a delectable duo of chocolate and Lavender Eclairs by Choukette Eclair’Art to top off an unforgettable memory to the mind a the palette.

“The number of recipes that can use lavender is only limited by the imagination,” Marsicano said. “The plants and their wonderful produce have healed and pleased many for centuries. It’s popularity seems to be continually growing and likely will for generations to come.

“Another reason to celebrate lavender is because there are one of the favorite plants for bees to gather and we love bees.”

On Saturday, Danny Horwitz and Brennan Jacobson, aka. the “Lavender Boys” and owners of the Kingston Lavender Company, will lead two interactive workshops on growing and using lavender. In addition, Bainbridge Island architect Michael Loverich will lead a special tour of the Anker I. Molver-designed Kingston House.

On Sunday, guests are encouraged to bring blankets to enjoy a picnic on the Kingston House lawn.

On both days, attendees can cut bundles of lavender, enjoy live music and order burgers from Kingston’s Grub Hut food truck.

Lavender plants will also be available for purchase on site: 4 inches for $5 and 1 gallon for $8. Kingston House will have several varieties available. The Kingston Lavender Company will be selling soaps, candles, floral mists, sachets and other products as well.

Admission on Saturday and Sunday is free, but RSVP is required.

In response to the demand, this year’s festival will also include the business community.

Between June 17-25, Kingston-area businesses are invited to join the fun by promoting their own lavender-themed offerings, such as lavender ice cream, a lavender-infused cocktail or even discounts for customers wearing purple.

Businesses committed to participate in the Kingston lavender festival can participate on-site, or offer lavender-themed products/services from their home shops in the week leading up to the festival.

While Kelley said they’ve just started confirming business partners for the festival, they already have a few takers. They welcome more businesses who want to participate to contact them directly to be included in the official program at no cost.

“On-site, the Grub Hut’s food truck will be back to serve delicious burgers and sandwiches to festival attendees,” Kelley said. “We will feature Olympic Farm Style Events’ gorgeous wood tables for our ‘Summer Soirée’ event on Friday. Chef Sunshine Dunning will be catering Friday’s event, which is being organized by Huguette Marsicano of Frenchmoods.

“Off-site, I know that Methia Gordon of Sweet Life Cakery will be offering a lavender iced tea and lavender-blueberry scones, while Shannon Castillo at Thistle Floral and Home will sell fresh lavender bundles and plants.”

Kelley hopes this year’s festival builds upon last year’s success to help achieve a larger goal of putting the Kingston Lavender Festival on the map.

“We’ve heard so many wonderful comments from last year’s attendees about how much they enjoyed the festival,” he said. “Folks say they felt a very strong sense of community and that it was just a peaceful, fun and beautiful way to spend an afternoon. We hope that the Kingston Lavender Festival will make Kingston and North Kitsap a favorite destination for lavender lovers.”

For more information or to RSVP, visit www.kingstonlavender.com.

Festival sponsors include Kingston House, Maple Tree Corner, Kinam Sohn of Realogics Sotheby’s and the Kingston Lavender Company.

Festival partners include Olympic Farm Style evetns, Chef Sunshine Catering, Frenchmoods, Michael Loverich Buildings, Choukette eclair’art and Kingston magazine.

— Sophie Bonomi is editor of Kitsap Weekly and a reporter for Kitsap News Group. Contact her at sbonomi@soundpublishing.com.

The following lavender recipes were shared by Chef Sunshine Dunning:

Lavender Shortbread Cookies Recipe —

Makes 24- 2” Cookies

1 Cup Salted Butter, Softened

¼ Cup + Some for Sprinkling Granulated Sugar

¼ Cup Powdered Sugar

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

1 Cup Cake Flour

1 Tablespoon Fresh Lavender

Cream butter, ¼ cup sugar and powdered sugar in mixer for 3 minutes

In a separate bowl sift flours together

Add flour to butter in 3 additions, mixing on low

Fold lavender in gently

Roll and shape into a ½” thick rectangle

Wrap in plastic and chill 4 hours

Remove from plastic and cut in desired shape

Bake at 300F for 20 minutes

Remove from oven and sprinkle immediately with sugar

Lavender Champagne Cocktail Recipe —

(Lavender Kir Royal)

Makes 4-6 Servings

1 Cup Granulated Sugar

1 Cup Water

1 Tablespoon Fresh Lavender

1 Bottle of Champagne or Prosecco

Heat sugar, water and lavender to a boil

Turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes

Strain and chill

Add a tablespoon or two to your Champagne to your taste

According to Kingston Lavender Festival organizer Matt Kelley, “Our region just happens to be one of the world’s best places to grow lavender.” (Tasha Vanasse / Contributed)

On Sunday, June 25, guests are encouraged to bring blankets to enjoy a picnic on the Kingston House lawn. (Tasha Vanasse / Contributed)

“It’s just a fun way for our neighbors and community to get together,” organizer Matt Kelley said of the Kingston Lavender Festival. (Tasha Vanasse / Contributed)

Admission on Saturday and Sunday is free, but RSVP is required. (Tasha Vanasse / Contributed)

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