The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be problematic for Fathoms O’ Fun summer festival organizers. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be problematic for Fathoms O’ Fun summer festival organizers. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Festival organizers determining whether their events are a ‘go’ this summer

Pandemic still problematic wild card for event staging

  • Tuesday, March 16, 2021 10:54pm
  • News

By Mike De Felice

Special to Kitsap Daily News

PORT ORCHARD – With signs that the COVID-19 pandemic may be edging closer to a conclusion, organizers of major summer festivals and events around Kitsap County differ on whether they can pull off their crowd-intensive happenings this summer.

Some of the organizers say happenings that have been given the green light to occur in 2021 may require some tweaking, however.

A tentative ‘yes’ to Whaling Days

Prospects for holding Silverdale Whaling Days appear promising this year, according to Whaling Days co-president Vicky Webb.

“With things opening up and increased vaccinations, it looks like we are going ahead,” Webb said Monday.

The three-day family-oriented event, which has drawn upwards of 5,000 in the past and was canceled last year, is currently slated for July 23-25. Webb is hopeful that popular Whaling Days events such as the Whale of a Run race, the grand parade and the fireworks show will take place, but she pointed out that the logistics of holding the events while meeting health regulations continue to be discussed.

Attendance limitations at venues such as the street fair and beer garden will be dictated by the future state of COVID cases, she said. Another wrinkle organizers face this year is that the site of the event on the city’s waterfront is an area currently undergoing construction work, Webb said.

A picture of how the event was expected to become clearer after the event’s board meeting this week.

‘Yes’ to the Ducks

The Duck Race, another Silverdale event held during Whaling Days, is set to take place on July 25.

“This will be the 28th year of the Duck Race,” said Steven Boe, president of the Silverdale Rotary Club, the organization that sponsors the event.

The Duck Race involves 18,000 rubber duckies being let loose from a barge off the city’s waterfront. The tide then propels the yellow ducks to the finish line. Leading up to the event, the Rotary Club sells the ducks around the county for $5 each.

The event raises $60,000-$80,000, with all proceeds going to local nonprofit organizations, Boe said. The winning duck will earn its lucky owner a 2021 Nissan truck from Advantage Nissan.

A ‘virtual’ Armed Forces Day Parade

This year, the Armed Forces Day Parade will not wind through downtown Bremerton. Instead, the parade will be virtual. The virtual tribute on May 15 will stream live on the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce website and Facebook page. Bremerton Kitsap Access Television will produce the program.

The show will feature historical footage and photos from past parades and interviews of military personnel.

The event, which debuted in 1948, is the longest-running Armed Forces Day parade in the nation and attracts an annual attendance of between 15,000 and 20,000 spectators, according to organizers.

A special part of this year’s program will be a tribute to Burke Waldron, a World War II sailor veteran who passed away in December from COVID-19, according to Denise Frey, president and CEO of the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce. In past parades, Waldron delighted spectators when he marched in the annual parade decked out in his dress whites.

The golf tournament associated with the parade will take place May 7 at Gold Mountain Golf Club – Cascade course. The tourney is being held to honor the military and first responders.

Kitsap Fair and Stampede

The Kitsap County Fair and Stampede is a “go.” The event is set for Aug. 25-29.

“We are moving forward with planning for a full fair in the hope that this summer, the state opens up, allowing for a full venue,” said fair manager Randy Hatfield.

“We are cautiously optimistic. We need 70% occupancy to succeed — that is the cutoff point,” Hatfield said.

The fair, canceled in 2020, has been a tradition in the county for more than 60 years and typically attracts 80,000 spectators.

Major events planned at the fair this year include a professional rodeo with national contestants competing for a share of $100,000 in prize money, a concert with country recording artist Mark Wills and a demolition derby. There are also livestock exhibits and, of course, fair food — including scones and curly fries.

Fair updates will be posted at kitsapfair.net and on the fair’s Facebook page.

Easter Egg Hunt on — with a twist

The annual Easter Egg Hunt in Port Orchard will take place — with a twist. It will be called Easter Candy Lane Crawl — and won’t involve eggs. Youngsters on April 3 will arrive in the family car and travel along a drive-thru event where they will receive candy from cars supplied by the Kitsap Mustang Club.

“It’s a Kitsap first because we are not doing the usual easter egg hunt,” Fathoms O’ Fun chair Sharron King said. “People are hungry to be out. We are going to put some fun back in our community.”

Kids Day canceled

The Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue’s Kids Day has been canceled for the second year in a row. The plan is to start up again in 2022, said CKFR’s public information officer Ileana LiMarzi.

“I cannot tell you how disappointed we are that we had to cancel it again,” LiMarzi said.

The summer event is normally held at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds and features popular demonstrations, including a car extrication featuring rescue personnel cutting off car doors and the roof to pull a mannequin to safety and a live-fire demonstration involving a helicopter.

No Bridge Blast

The Bremerton Bridge Blast, a fireworks show off the Manette Bridge, has been canceled this year.

“It’s not going to happen. Because of the size and scope of the show, it takes a full year to organize the event,” Boomtown Productions owner John Miller said.

“We are always disappointed when we can’t put on a production,” Miller said.

“I know when we bring it back next year in all its glory, the city will be overwhelmed. It will bring a lot of joy to people.”

Fireworks shows are a ‘maybe’

Firework shows that still may take place in Kitsap County include the July 3 show in Poulsbo and the Fourth of July show in Port Orchard, according to Janice Ventura, head of Halo Fireworks, which puts on the shows.

Both shows feature firework displays from barges off of each city’s waterfronts. Discussions are still underway with organizers to determine if the shows will go ahead.

Bremerton Brewfest, always a summer favorite, is rumored to be in doubt this season. The Independent was unable to reach organizers to learn whether that’s the case. It was canceled last year.

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