Independence Day gets jump start in Poulsbo

POULSBO — Blue sky and a festival atmosphere ushered in the Independence Day weekend with Poulsbo’s annual July 3 festivities.

POULSBO — Blue sky and a festival atmosphere ushered in the Independence Day weekend with Poulsbo’s annual July 3 festivities.

The Courtesy Auto Group 3rd of July Fireworks on the Fjord got off to a bang last Thursday and ended with a boom over Liberty Bay.

“It was just great,” said Mary Graves of Community Event Productions, which organizes the annual event. “We’ve received a lot of compliments already.”

Crowds met or exceeded previous years, possibly owing to July 3 falling on a Thursday before the holiday weekend, said Graves.

“This year was probably close to the best year for crowd participation,” Graves said. “I think a lot of people were coming to the area for the weekend and just came early because they’d heard there was an event in Poulsbo. The rest were just pleasantly surprised and I bet they’ll come back.”

National security needs kept many of the event’s regular performers, like the Marine Silent Drill Team, away from the shores of Little Norway but crowds didn’t seem to mind. They still reveled in the lineup of live bands, festival food and kid-friendly fun.

One of the more popular attractions at the event was the kids area with a variety of inflated fun houses, a climbing wall, batting cages and a train ride through Anderson Parkway.

Others were drawn to eating contests that are a highlight of the annual festival. From 5 and 6 year olds to adults, people poured in to try their hands at eating a variety of foods the fastest.

But there was some spitting to do first.

The King and Queen watermelon seed spitting contest kicked off the culinary olympics. By far, the standout performance was by West Sound Orca Waylon Duhon with a seed spit of 42.5 feet to earn him the men’s division. Duhon said his only secret was practice — lots of practice.

“I’ve been practicing since I was 3,” Duhon said with a smile to the crowd. “I grew up in Louisiana. There isn’t much else to do there than spit seeds.”

Watermelon made another appearance during the event, but this time it was seedless and the point was to devour it. Not being able to use his hands didn’t faze Rusty Scott, who attacked his piece of melon with such force that he accidentally head-butted it at one point. A dripping, sticky Scott was all smiles when he was named the champ for his division.

As the day wore on, the crowds grew, especially on grassy areas at Waterfront Park, where families began staking claims to prime fireworks viewing spots as early as 1 p.m. for the 10:30 p.m. show. And they weren’t disappointed for their patience as they show kicked off right on time with bursts of red, white and blue that lit the entire harbor.

“The fireworks display in and of itself was well orchestrated,” Graves commented on the grand finale of Poulsbo’s Independence Day celebration. “And the finale was wonderful. I had asked for it to end in a unique way and I just loved how it had that great roll-out ending and then just one last poof.”