With COVID-19 cases on a rapid rise in neighboring Oregon — so much so that the state is re-implementing some restrictions — and also still somewhat iffy here in Washington state, it’s not the perfect harbinger of a quite “normal” summer. So local tourism officials are hedging their bets when it comes to the annual summer festivals that attract thousands to the Harbor and their host venues.
“If we all had a crystal ball it would be great,” said Leslie Eichner, executive director of the Westport-Grayland Chamber of Commerce. “It’s sort of a sad situation where you want to plan and plow through, but everybody’s afraid to spend their money on advertising and promoting their events if they don’t know whether or not they are going to happen.”
But there are some events that seem to be on the calendar — at least tentatively and in some cases altered to address crowds/social distancing and the pandemic, which doesn’t seem to be quite under control yet in the Northwest.
“We have event (organizers) who are going to try to make some happen,” said Eichner. “The Rusty Scupper Pirates are going to try and pull it off in June.” She also noted that the Driftwood Show & Glass Float Hunt in Grayland, normally held in spring each year, is now being planned for August.
Oregon has seen a 49% surge in cases in recent weeks, prompting Gov. Kate Brown to announce modifications to coronavirus-related restrictions. Current restrictions depend on a county’s risk level.
Meanwhile, Washington is in a two-week holding pattern, when it comes to any possible additional restrictions or any rollbacks, meaning it’s sort of a guessing game for everybody — with their fingers crossed.
“We’d like to see more events being planned, but we’re all in that same boat,” echoed Wil Russoul, director of the Downtown Aberdeen Association.
A search of web sites and calls to local tourism officials by The Daily World turned up these events that are being tentatively planned around the Harbor for the upcoming summer. This is not a complete list, and any organization wishing to submit an event to publicize should contact The Daily World at 360-532-4000 or submit them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org:
Founders’ Day Parade — The “Twisted, Founders Day Parade” will be held on July 3. Parade entries will be stationary while viewers drive slowly and safely down the parade route, with narration and music on the car radio.
SPLASH — “As of right now, we are planning on just providing a professional firework show on July 4th. We don’t plan to go forward with the entertainment or vendor parts of the festival due to the current COVID restrictions. I can confirm some details as we get closer to the date, but I believe that the show will begin at 10 p.m. just as the previous years,” said Doug Farmer, assistant director of Aberdeen Parks & Recreation.
Aberdeen Art Walk — It is being tentatively planned for July 31 at Morrison Riverfront Park, with local artists and vendors. The “Twisted Aberdeen Art Walk” will be held under COVID-19 protocols and masks will be required. One more twist: – Booths are free, for everyone (unless you are a food vendor (then that’s between you and the Health Department).
SummerFest — “We have scheduled SummerFest for Saturday, Aug. 21, but that is tentative due to COVID restrictions. We will know more later,” said Downtown Association Board President Bobbi McCracken. “WinterFest will be held in some form again this year. It is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4.”
19th annual Rusty Scupper’s Pirate Daze — The festival is tentatively scheduled for June 25-27 (“subject to change,” according to the website. For information, call Diane DeShayes at 206-551-3922.
Grayland Driftwood Show & Glass Float Hunt — An annual April event for almost six decades this year’s Grayland event has been postponed until Aug. 28 & 29. For vendor information, call 360-268-0080 or 360-267-6532 or visit graylandcommunityhall.org for additional information.
Grays Harbor County Festival of Colors — The annual kite-flying festival is planned for June 4-6 on the beach at Ocean Shores.
Five Star Dealerships’ Sand & Sawdust Festival — After taking a year off, it is planned for June 25-27, centered outdoors at the Ocean Shores Convention Center and on the beach. Chainsaw carvers showcase their work, each artist creating art pieces during the festival, with live auctions each day.
Hawk Daze — The highly popular gathering of The 12s — when Ocean Shores becomes a sea of blue and green Seahawks fans — is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 20-22 at the Ocean Shores Convention Center.
The Grays Harbor County Fair is being planned — in some form — for Aug. 4-8 at the Fairgrounds in Elma. The fair is already selling tickets to two planned concerts and now accepting credit card payments on its website for Golden Circle concert tickets and carnival ride wristbands.
The concerts are:
RILEY GREEN: Aug. 4, 8 p.m. Front- and second-row seats are already sold-out. Tickets in Row 3 through 14 are available for $50, and all tickets include fair admission.
SHENANDOAH: Aug. 5, 8 p.m. Front row is sold-out; Rows 2 through 15 are $35.
Tickets can be purchased at the fair office or online at www.ghcfairgrounds.com/p/tickets