The 14th annual Sequim Lavender Festival • July 16-18 • Six farms on tour: Cedarbrook Lavender and Herb Farm, Jardin du Soleil, Lost Mountain Lavender, Olympic Lavender Farm, Purple Haze Lavender, Sunshine Herb & Lavender Farm • Street Fair, on Fir Street from Sequim Avenue to Third Avenue in downtown Sequim, features more than 150 juried booths • Fun on the Field features dozens of children’s activities • Farm tour tickets are $15 per person and provide unlimited admission to the six farms throughout the festival. No admission charge for children 12 and under. • Sponsored by the Sequim Lavender Growers Association • Visit www.lavenderfestival.com for more information
There's something about lavender that
attracts attention. Whether it's the heady scent that permeates the air
at this time of year, the fields of blooming purple plants at family
farms tucked into the folds of the North Olympic Peninsula, or the plant
itself, a burst of blue-violet blossoms at the end of spiked foliage
whose essential oil is purported to have healing power, lavender
The proof is in the fact that about 30,000 people find
their way to the lavender fields this weekend for the 14th annual Sequim
What's the draw? For one, the festival
itself, which features an up-close look at everything lavender on the
farm tours, a 150-booth juried street fair, concerts (this year, that
includes a Beatles tribute band), cooking-with-lavender demonstrations, a
fancy lavender-laced dinner, and an entire field devoted to fun for the
"We put on one of the best festivals in the country,"
says Scott Nagel, executive director of the Sequim Lavender Festival,
and a producer of festivals for better than 30 years. "We offer such a
variety of activities in a short three days, it's like no other
The Lavender Festival is fun
all ages — even those smelling the herb for the first time. Sequim Gazette file photos by Ashley Miller
Festival visitors crowd the Street
Fair. Fir Street will be closed to
feature more than 150 booths.
Mickie Vail, director of
operations for the festival, agrees. But, she takes it one step further,
calling Sequim and its surroundings a destination resort.
come for the three-day festival and then stay a week or so visiting the
other areas of interest here," she says.
That's all well and
good, but, again, what is so compelling about a plant whose name is
derived from the Latin word lavere, meaning "to wash"?
Ragsdale, president of the Sequim Lavender Growers Association and owner
of Sunshine Herb and Lavender Farm, thinks it has something to do with
"People are looking for the real thing," Ragsdale
says. "We live in such a synthetic world, people are now starting to
look for natural products and are excited about it. Lavender is so
Ragsdale's farm, along with five others, will showcase
its natural products throughout the weekend, with free buses shuttling
visitors to and fro.
On the eve of the festival, Ragsdale and
his wife, Carmen, say they are ready for the rush of people who have
come from far and wide to enjoy lavender.
"To stand in the
middle of a (lavender) field in full bloom, there is nothing like it,"
The early stages
Like all good
ideas that turn into a successful venture, growing lavender in and
around Sequim began with a vision, that being to restore the
agricultural base of the fertile Sequim prairie. According to
association growers, eight lavender farms began planting between 1995
and 1998. Since then, at least 30 more have been established. Today,
more than 110,000 lavender plants are grown in the area.
lavender festival has grown along with the number of plants and, in
turn, has greatly increased tourism on the North Olympic Peninsula.
Indeed, the Sequim Lavender Festival has been voted one of the top 100
events by the American Bus Association and Sequim is recognized as the
Lavender Capital of North America(r), a registered trademark.
for real, it's here'
On the eve of one of the largest events on
the peninsula, Sequim is buzzing about lavender.
before the festival, everyone starts talking about lavender," Nagel
says. "It's exciting and then you know it's for real, it's here."
and his staff - Vail, Kelly Jo Hill and Brigid Woodland - work
year-round toward the production of the festival, but the month or two
before the opening, the work is nearly nonstop.
setting up the street fair is taking precedence. Tomorrow, the vendors
begin setting up booths along Fir Street in downtown Sequim. The fair is
juried, which means items sold have been reviewed by a knowledgeable
committee - in the case of the lavender festival, four SLGA members
screen for handmade, authentic articles.
Vail, who begins
sorting through applications in November, says she usually ends up with
more good vendors than the festival can accommodate.
spreads that you can buy quality, handmade stuff at this street fair,
then the vendors want to come," Vail says. And, she adds, nearly 40
percent of the street fair vendors are from the peninsula.
the lavender farms on tour, the festival is the culmination of
everything that has taken place during the past year.
as the festival is over, we start to harvest," Ragsdale says. "It
signals the beginning of next year's product."
Ragsdale adds he
is grateful to the volunteers and those who attend the festival and fund
each year's event. Neither the farms, he says, nor SLGA, profits
individually from the festival; rather funds go to make sure there is a
festival the next year and donations to the community. It becomes a
people's festival, he said.
A community event
is quick to point out the total community involvement in the festival,
without which his job would be much more difficult and the festival
would not have achieved its success or popularity.
Nagel says, "when people come to Sequim they have a good feeling about
this community. The people who live here give the first impression,
which is very welcoming. Visitors are looking for small-town, friendly
America and they get it here in Sequim."
Festivals of any sort
are important to a community, an expression of community participation,
an uplifting time for its citizens.
Everyone gets behind the
festival, Nagel says. That includes businesses donating items such as
water, food, even fire extinguishers, and more than 250 volunteers
giving their time and energy to making sure this remains one of the best
"We pay close attention to the people who attend the
festival," Nagel says. "We have plenty of port-a-potties, places to sit
and free wheelchairs."
As much as festival organizers talk
about visitors to the area (Nagel maintains festival-goers represent 50
countries as a map posted at one of the lavender farms showed), nearly
60 percent of those attending the festival live on the North Olympic
That all translates to an economic boost for the
area. An economic input survey conducted in 2005 showed there was a $3.6
million boom to the economy of the peninsula.
goes up a bit during the festival, as well. The farms hire crews to
manage food service, parking and sales.
What's the draw, the
attraction to a purple plant? The answer is, all of the above.
love lavender," Vail says. "It's amazing. You say 'lavender' and people
start gushing about how much they like it."
The 14th annual
Sequim Lavender Festival officially opens at 11 a.m. Friday with
gardening guru Ciscoe Morris sharing ideas for planting, growing and
Enjoy and discover your personal attraction
Mary Powell is the media director for the
Sequim Lavender Festival and can be reached at media@lavender
The 14th annual Sequim Lavender Festival
• Six farms on tour: Cedarbrook Lavender and Herb
Farm, Jardin du Soleil, Lost Mountain Lavender, Olympic Lavender Farm,
Purple Haze Lavender, Sunshine Herb & Lavender Farm
Fair, on Fir Street from Sequim Avenue to Third Avenue in downtown
Sequim, features more than 150 juried booths
• Fun on the Field
features dozens of children's activities
• Farm tour tickets are
$15 per person and provide unlimited admission to the six farms
throughout the festival. No admission charge for children 12 and under.
Sponsored by the Sequim Lavender Growers Association
www.lavenderfestival.com for more information
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
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