Enthusiasm. That's what Scott Nagel brings to everything he does.
For the past six years, Nagel has been the executive director of the Sequim Lavender Festival. Under his leadership the festival has grown to be the largest lavender festival in North America, drawing visitors to Sequim from around the world.
His philosophy for festivals includes making it look easy and making sure everyone has a good experience, including all the workers.
Nagel came to promoting festivals through the back door. At 18, he was part of a dance group and got involved in scheduling its shows, which included promoting the group. He continued promoting and scheduling performing groups until he became a founder and the director of Seattle Theatre Arts.
First was Folklife
He and his dance group performed every year at the Northwest Folklife Festival and in 1982, Nagel became its executive director.
Nagel and his wife purchased some land between Port Angles and Joyce
25 years ago, after many trips to the peninsula to hike and beach walk. In 1998, they decided to see if they could live and work on the peninsula.
Nagel took a job as vice president of special projects and advocacy for the International Festival and Events Association. Bruce Skinner was the president and had moved the association to Port Angeles. Nagel also has been an economic consultant for the IFEA.
In 2003, Nagel became producing director of the Dungeness Crab Festival and in 2004, the executive director of the Lavender Festival.
Learned on his own
"Now there are college programs that teach you how to be a festival director. I had to learn all on my own," Nagel says.
"There are few people who do this full time."
While Nagel must be organized in order to juggle all the hats he wears, he freely admits that he would be lost without the volunteers he works with. He thinks many people volunteer their time because they understand how important the festivals are to their communities.
Both the Lavender Festival and Crab Fest have become giant tourism draws, and more people are looking for activities close to home. Consequently both events are likely to draw more people than ever, making those volunteers even more important.
Why come to Sequim?
Nagel cites several reasons people from the other side of Puget Sound come to Sequim:
_ They want to escape the city for the ease and comfort of a small town.
_ Sequim is a nice community to visit. Every year he hears people say how nice everyone is in the entire community.
_ Sequim is easy to get to and the festival offers a variety of activities that keep expanding. The mixture helps to spread out the crowd so the 30,000 people who attend don't overwhelm the town.
_ People come for the high-quality lavender grown in the Dungeness Valley.
_ The lavender farmers establish relationships with many of their customers, who return year after year.
_ The festival is successful since it is authentic. The Dungeness Valley actually grows excellent lavender because of the climate. The festival doesn't import lavender to create a festival.
While a few people may grumble about the crowds, Nagel thinks the community understands how important the festival is to Sequim.
Power to soothe ...
And lavender is a special herb. It soothes the skin and the mind. Some kinds can be used for cooking - and it deters bugs. The Sequim Lavender Growers Association has donated lavender
bags to soldiers in Iraq to keeps insects away from them.
Nagel seldom has time to enjoy the festival as he is moving from place to place, looking for and solving problems before festival-goers are aware of them. He says just seeing everyone enjoying his or her time in Sequim is rewarding for him.
If he had one wish for the Lavender Festival, it would be that U.S. Highway 101 were wider. The traffic congestion getting to and from town can cause irritations.
The lavender, however, can smooth them over.
Reach Dana Casey at email@example.com.
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