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Lavender love still blooming

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It's official. The 14th annual Sequim Lavender Festival will go down in the books as one of the best ever.
With wall-to-wall sunshine and enough activities to keep everyone entertained, how could it not surpass expectations?
"Overall this is the most successful festival ever," said Scott Nagel, executive director of the Sequim Lavender Festival.
A 30-year veteran of organizing and directing festivals throughout the country, Nagel added this year's lavender festival was one of the best festivals he's ever been involved with. "The quality of the farms, Fun on the Field, the concerts, all made this festival the best," he said.
If a steady stream of cars, motor homes, campers, buses and people moving throughout the region for the festival is any indication, then, yes, Sequim hosted one heck of a party. The more than 30,000 people who enjoyed a lively street fair, farm tours, concerts, food, children's programs and more were the proof of the pudding.
"We've been hearing so much about this festival in Sequim, we just had to come this year," said Brenda Fox, who traveled with friends from Victoria, British Columbia. "It's everything we heard about and more."
A couple from Napa, Calif., who asked to have their picture taken among the bright purple lavender at Lost Mountain Lavender, said they didn't know so much lavender was grown in Washington. They, too, had heard about the festival and decided to plan their vacation to include the Sequim Lavender Festival.
"People came from all over," Nagel said. "Montana, California, Minnesota, Canada, Japan. It was a truly international festival."

Moving the masses
Clallam County buses, contracted to haul festival-goers to and from the six farms on tour were packed throughout the weekend. Having the transportation eased some of the traffic congestion in town and parking at the farms. Purple Haze, however, at one point had to open an overflow parking lot due to the sheer number of people wanting visit the farm.
While it appeared as though more people were in town this year, Nagel said the ticket sales were the same as last year, which puts the attendance at somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000. That's a lot of people to squeeze into a town that normally houses about 6,000. "There are only so many people who can fit," Nagel said.
To be sure, every hotel room and camping space between Port Townsend and Port Angeles was filled. Parking spaces were at a premium, and U.S. Highway 101 traffic was crawling from morning to night.


Festival not just farms
But the street fair - featuring 150 vendors - was a constant sea of humanity. Food sales were up and the vendors were great, Nagel said. In fact, a few of the local lavender growers set up at the street fair sold out their products on Friday and spent the night making more soap, lavender bundles and other goods.
An expanded and updated Fun on the Field event made a great place for families to hang out. The festival offered free space to all the nonprofits, which in turn meant a successful fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club.
Sequim was a-rockin' come Saturday night when Kirkland-based band Creme Tangerine paid tribute to the Beatles. The two-hour concert drew a crowd of about 1,500 fans, many of whom danced the night away at the James Center. The concert was a first for the lavender festival. Nagel said he would make it an annual event.
While Nagel contends the weekend couldn't have gone smoother, there was a hitch or two. Like the woman who dropped her cell phone in one of the port-a-potties (yes, it was recovered), the man from Japan who left his wallet at one of the booths (yes, it was found), or the lost dog that was found wandering the streets (and yes, she was reunited with her family).
The reward, Nagel said of the festival, is that everyone who attended had a great experience, a goal he already is planning for next year's lavender festival.

Mary Powell is the media director for the Sequim Lavender Festival and can be reached at media@lavenderfestival.com.

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