Winter Benefit to fete 30 years of festivals

It all began in 1993, back when Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” was a gigantic hit. Karen Hanan, a lover of world cultures, wanted to explore music beyond the borders of her home in Clallam County.

So she got to work on the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts, which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, for the first time in three years, the Juan de Fuca Foundation will host its Winter Benefit in person. The theme: the 1990s, with all of its fashions, music and lingo – from overalls to “as if” – with dinner, live entertainment and the traditional Dessert Dash.

The venue is the Naval Elks Lodge ballroom, 131 E. First St., Port Angeles, with doors to open at 5:30 p.m. Tables for eight near the stage, “date night” tables for two on the balcony and standard seats are available at and by calling 360-457-5411.

A champagne reception and dinner, with a choice of salmon, chicken cordon bleu or vegetarian lasagna, is included.

“We want to give people a great night out,” said Kyle LeMaire, JFFA’s executive director.

LeMaire is bringing in Abakis, a Port Townsend-based band popular at the Juan de Fuca Festival. Leading the ensemble is singer-guitarist Aba Kiser, who recently starred in “Always, Patsy Cline” at the Key City Public Theatre.

Hanan, the first executive director of the foundation – now director of the Washington State Arts Commission – is among the guests coming to mark three decades of Juan de Fuca festivals and concerts.

“I’m working on my outfit,” added LeMaire, who’s considering 1990s fads such as bucket hats and Doc Martens. Regardless of what guests wear, they will have a chance to participate in a silent auction and the Dessert Dash, a kind of race for treats including a chocolate filbert bourbon torte and a four-tier carrot cake.

The silent auction, meanwhile, features overnight stays in Victoria, B.C., electric bicycle rentals in Port Angeles, tickets to “Into the Woods” at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, bird- and whale-watching voyages on the Puget Sound Express and tickets to two Ballet Victoria productions.

“The décor is going to be all that bright ’90s look,” promised JFFA administrative manager Kari Chance.

“We’re inviting people to dress ’90s and relive the ’90s with us,” she said, adding she’s built special bingo cards for the night with slang such as “tubular” and “Talk to the hand!”

More about the foundation’s ongoing concert series and Memorial Day weekend festival can be found at

Performing artists, from musicians to dancers to comedians, can find applications on the website for the 2023 festival.