Members of the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association stand in the James Center for the Performing Arts’ band shell where they’ll hold part of their Sequim Lavender Farm Faire on July 15-17. Some lavender farmers participants include, from top left, Randy Nicholson, Mike Shirkey and Gary Stachurski, and front left, Beth Norris, Carmen Ragsdale, Vickie Oen, Sue Shirkey, Marcella Stachurski and Janet Abbott. Photo courtesy of Steve Ragsdale
Sequim Gazette staff
New events and sponsors are confirmed for the Sequim Lavender Farm Faire running July 15-17 at Carrie Blake Park.
Scott Nagel, fair executive director, said seven lavender farms will be part of the Farms on Tour with Port Williams Lavender returning from a one-year absence from the Sequim Lavender Festival, and newcomer Washington Lavender joining.
Other tour farms are Cedarbrook Lavender & Herb Farm, Jardin du Soleil Lavender, Olympic Lavender, Purple Haze Lavender and Sunshine Herb & Lavender Farm.
Shuttle buses will run out of Carrie Blake Park to the farms, except for Washington Lavender.
“What makes our farms world-famous is that each one is like a mini-festival,” Nagel said. “We’re running eight festivals with the Farmer’s Faire and each farm.”
Fair festivities, which organizers call Lavender in the Park, span the park with vendors and music near and in the James Center for the Performing Arts and the Water Reuse Park site.
Nagel said he is looking into adding the following events to include the community:
• A nonprofit and family area included with vendors
• Evening concerts
• A car show
• Washington State University Master Gardeners demonstrations
• A lavender pie baking contest
Nagel said musicians’ booking agents have been in contact with him due to the success of the Creme Tangerine — a Beatles tribute band — concert, which drew nearly 1,000 people last year.
“I expect us and the acts to get bigger each year as we grow,” Nagel said. “We’re already planning for a second year.”
Sponsors, staff and programs
Linda Lape-French, designated broker/owner of John L. Scott Sequim, signed on to be the first presenting sponsor of the fair.
Nagel’s staff, who worked for six years with him on the Sequim Lavender Festival, are joining the fair as well, including Mickie Vail, operations director; Kelly Jo Hill, volunteer director; Mary Powell, media director, and several more staffers.
Olympic Peninsula Winery Association and Olympic Distributors have sponsored the beer and wine garden next to the vendors and James Center.
Restaurants and food vendors confirmed to date include gyros, pizza, barbecue, grinders, meatballs, crepes, oysters and clams, fish and chips, salmon, roasted corn on the cob, baked potatoes, espresso, strawberry shortcake and ice cream, with more to come.
The fair also is partnering with local events during the festivities to co-advertise and/or offer discounts to the Olympic Peninsula Winery Tour, Dungeness River Audubon Center’s “Puffin Cruise,” the Lavender Golf Tournament, Olympic Theatre Arts, the Sequim Arts Studio Tour, the Olympic Driftwood Sculptors Art Show, the Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Show and more.
The Friends of Gentle Paws will provide dog-sitting services at the fair.
Joe Irvin, interim city planner, said the fair’s approved permit has conditions that fall in line with events of this size.
Other nearby city projects shouldn’t have an impact on the festivity, Irvin said.
Sequim Family Advocates plans to begin its project in the Water Reuse Park in late May or early June and stop construction during the fair.
The city also is planning to chip-seal Rhodefer Road, the main access road to the James Center for Performing Arts, before or after the event.
“I’m excited to have the park and Water Reuse Site because it matches the rural nature of the whole fair now,” Nagel said. “That’s what gets me excited is that there’s a park with a lot of space and opportunity to start something new.”
Nagel said each farm holds 300-700 vehicles and that there shouldn’t be traffic problems in East Sequim with shuttles and buses. He’s obtained approval for parking from the Blake family, which own the spot where the Irrigation Festival holds its timber carnival.
Sue Shirkey, owner of Port Williams Lavender, began participating in the Sequim Lavender Festival farms tour in 2003. She removed the farm from the tour last year due to a surgery but she has joined the fair’s Farms on Tour.
“In creating our farms and fields here in the Sequim Valley, each of us brought with us a dream and a vision,” Shirkey said.
With that goal in mind, Shirkey said, “We purchased land, plotted our fields and planted our lavender. We read books, shared ideas and weeded (consistently). We worked hard, really hard, and still do; farming lavender is very labor intensive. We’ve cried over our mistakes and poor decisions, rejoiced over the things that have gone well. And we have created an icon for our community. In the process we organized an association to help support each other and our industry and we are proud of what we have accomplished, despite the tragedy of the association split that we are now walking through.”
Shirkey feels the seven Farms on Tour are the most recognized farms in the area, and include founding farms of the Sequim Lavender Festival.
“Together, with other members of our newly established Sequim Lavender Farmers Association that have chosen to not be on tour but will be represented at Lavender in the Park at Carrie Blake Park, we are a strongly united group of farmers, passionate about our farms and businesses, and committed to sharing our fields of lavender, expertise and wisdom garnered over a combined excess of 100 years of growing this amazing herb,” Shirkey said.
During the fair, tickets are available at all of the farms and at the Lavender in the Park information center for $15, or $10 for military personnel. Children 12 and under are free. Lavender in the Park is free.
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