The Dungeness River Railroad Bridge will be a hotspot once again for the 18th Dungeness River Festival on Sept. 29. Organizers changed the event to just one day this year. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash

River Fest shifts to one-day event

Organizers of the Dungeness River Festival look to flow visitors through to one day instead of two for its 18th year.

Powell Jones, executive director of the Dungeness River Audubon Center, said about two-thirds of the event’s traffic comes on Friday and Saturday’s attendance always took a dip. Last year about 2,500 people attended over two days.

“We’re looking at (the event’s) impact and in our community there are a lot of things going on every weekend,” Jones said. “When we were at two days, we were overlapping with something else. We want to be a cohesive part of the community.”

This year, the festival runs 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, at the Railroad Bridge Park, 2151 W. Hendrickson Road in Sequim.

Admission remains free with 20-plus hands-on nature activities and exhibits such as fish printing, guided walks and more.

Some of the returning exhibitors include the North Olympic Salmon Coalition, North Olympic Land Trust, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, and North Olympic Peninsula Railroaders.

This year, Jones said they’re incorporating more recreation to the event by including groups like the Peninsula Chapter Back Country Horsemen of Washington about how to interact with horses on trails.

This year, organizers encourage visitors to be the ones asking questions rather than the exhibitors.

“We want people to take ownership of the watershed,” Jones said.

“Each booth used to have separate questions for the kids, but now we’re asking everyone to say, “what do you do for my watershed?” We want to establish that connection between the people and the agencies.”

As tradition, students from Greywolf and Helen Haller Elementary in grades third-fifth, along with homeschool and private school students will attend and Five Acre School’s Sound Waves Marimba Band will play before and after lunch.

Jones recommends visitors without children come between 2-4 p.m. for more one-on-one time with exhibitors. He encourages everyone, including adults, to ask what each agencies/group does for the watershed.

Bob Boekelheide will also lead only one “salmon walk” at 3 p.m. talking about what the fish do for the river and surrounding area.

Jones said holding the walk later in the day gives more people face time with exhibitors.

“We want people to visit every booth rather than pulling them away for a walk in the middle of the day,” he said. “We’re trying to get them as much exposure as possible.”

All parking will be in the field prior to entering the park and Jones said visitors will be encouraged to enter through the area the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe recently purchased rather than along the road.

For more information on the festival or river center, visit www.DungenessRiverCenter.org or call 681-4076.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

River Jensen, a student at Greywolf Elementary, blows a kiss to a geoduck in 2014 at the Dungeness River Festival. Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash

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