At 126 years, Sequim’s annual Irrigation Festival is still going strong — even in mostly virtual mode.
The community festival is now in its 126th year with the theme “A Place For You to Rome.”
With some COVID-related restrictions still in place, most of the 2021 Irrigation Festival events have been moved to Saturday, May 8.
The Innovative Arts and Crafts Fair will be held in person from 11 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. on Cedar Street across from the Sequim Civic Plaza. The rest of the weekend’s events are virtual-only, including the Crazy Daze Breakfast (8-8:30 a.m.), Family Fun Day (12:30-2 p.m.), Past Royalty Luncheon (2-2:30 p.m.), logging show (3 p.m.), car show (4 p.m.), grand parade (5 p.m.) and fireworks show (6 p.m.).
View the virtual events and find more information at irrigationfestival.com.
Grand Pioneers Judy Markley and Dave Cameron, Honorary Pioneers Richard “Dick” Parker and Emily Westcott, and Grand Marshal Amanda Beitzel join this year’s irrigation Festival royalty — queen Hannah Hampton and princesses Allie Gale, Zoee Kuperus and Sydney Van Proyen — in helping the community celebrate this years festival.
Here a little more about this year’s dignitaries:
Grand Pioneer Judy Markley
“I was born in Sequim in the hospital west of 101 Diner. Lived here all my life, except in the 1980s for seven years in Anchorage. Sequim has always been special as well as the Irrigation Festival.
“From an early age, fifth grade and up, our class built several floats with our teachers, parents and grandparents involved. Later on I worked on the queen’s floats and then my Red Hat friends and I built three floats, winning awards.
“Early I learned to tap dance and twirl a baton, for school and many of the parades — Port Townsend, Port Angeles, Sequim and Seattle. There were six in the group to begin with. By 1954 there were three of us left. I performed in clogging, too.
“I have been on the Pioneer Committee twice. The last year was the end of the three-year sign-up. My generation had such a wonderful time and place to grow up. We had more Moms and Dads looking out for us. It did take a village!
“We were never without work. The pea picking, strawberries, the tulip fields. The money sure helped, too. My brother and I also delivered papers for three years.
“My family of five, three girls and two boys, were also very active in the festival — operettas, especially. That meant I was involved in making costumes.
“The people in this community were like family. I loved them and learned from them.
“My mother and her sister were in the royalty in 1933-1935. My mother a princess, my aunt Kate queen. I was a princess two years, in 1953 and 1954
“Hopefully the festival will continue when this virus leaves us.
“Thank you to all the festival chair’people’ for keeping it together for another year.”
Grand Pioneer Dave Cameron
“My parents, Dave and Shirley (Cays) Cameron, were dairy farming next to the Dungeness River at the end of Hendrickson Road when I was born. My cousin Nancy Hutt owns part of the property now.
“Our family moved to California during my school years, returning in 1968. Dad managed Blue Ribbon Farm out near the Voice of America.
“We grew crops, had cattle and Dad started strawberries there. I helped him and had a couple side jobs, too.
“I entered Peninsula College’s fisheries program, but after I married another pioneer descendant, Sidne Brown, we moved to Ellensburg for two years for her to get a teaching certificate.
“When we returned to Sequim, I raised cattle, grew seed crops, made hay. My brother Pete worked with me when he came home from college. I held some side jobs at that time, too.
“I was a ditchwalker for a couple years, drove school bus, and later began my own livestock hauling business. I served as District 3 Commissioner and Clallam County commissioner.
“When Dad passed away in 1996, I took over the strawberry business for another 20 years.
“As the valley has changed out of farming, my farming activity has dwindled. Irrigation has changed as well, from open ditches, which were sometimes troublesome, to more efficient piping. Even now, irrigation is vital to my farming.
“The Cays side of my family has been well represented in recent years by both my Aunt Caroline and Aunt Beverly as Grand Pioneers.
“My great grand-parents, Amos and Sarah Cameron came to Sequim from Pennsylvania, in search of a homestead, which they found on Blue Mountain. They raised 13 children. Amos was a trapper and hunter. He built many trails through the Olympics and named some of the lakes, creeks and valleys, such as Cameron Creek and Moose Lake and Lake Etta, for friends of his. Their homestead cabin which has been moved four times, now sits on my property.”
Honorary Pioneer Richard “Dick” Parker
“I was born in Port Angeles in 1937, and raised in Forks. I graduated from Forks High school in 1957, moved to Renton and went to work at Boeing.
“I met Crystal Shaughnessy and we were married Oct. 10, 1959. Crystal was raised in Sequim and graduated in 1958 from Sequim High School. We lived in Renton for eight years.
“In 1974 I took a job with the City of Sequim where I became the Director of Public works. I spent 22 years in that position retiring in 1995.
“We have two daughters, three grandchildren, we lost one grandchild, and we have four great-grandchildren.”
Honorary Pioneer Emily Westcott
“I was born and raised in Tacoma. I lived and taught school in Olympia for 11 years. I moved to Sequim in September of 1979 because I got the job of vice principal at Port Angeles High School. It was a pretty big adjustment moving to a small isolated area from a busy capital city. But I adjusted and love it here.
“During the last 40 years I was a vice principal and then a teacher at Choice Alternative school in Port Angeles. I retired from the PA School District in 1998.
“I also owned the Red Ranch Restaurant for 20 years. It was during this time that I learned to fly and got my pilots license in 1996. I love it; it was the smartest thing I ever did. I also substitute teach in Sequim.
“Over this course of years I’ve become very active as a volunteer maintaining the beauty of Sequim. This includes being responsible for the flower basket program, where our high school kids make the baskets and I get sponsors for them. I spend many hours weeding and taking care of our gardens and flowers on Washington Street. I even do some mowing of yards on side streets where owners need some help.
“I’m in charge of our Christmas decorations lights throughout Sequim I have a great team that works with me.
“My goal is to make Sequim bright and beautiful for all who live here and fly around in my little plane.”
Grand Marshal Amanda Beitzel
“I came into this beautiful world kicking and screaming in August 1943, a war baby. My mother’s favorite recollection of my birth was, “It was the hottest day of the year.” This forecast was repeated in every birthday phone call throughout my adult years, so I would not to forget the joy of my birth.
“My father was a traveling salesman with territories across the south. My younger brother and I moved from school to school until we finally settled back at my birth place, Memphis, Tenn., in 1954. It was a peaceful, post-war town.
“The 1960s brought leaving home, college and my first marriage. I graduated from a teacher’s college with a degree in home economics. Unfortunately, soon after, home economics became an obsolete course in most schools. As my two children, son born in 1968 and daughter in 1970, grew, I chose to direct my interests to volunteering, which has dominated my activities ever since.
“My husband John and I married in 1977 in Houston, Texas. The next 18 years we moved back and forth between Dallas and Houston. I volunteered to teach art at my daughter’s elementary school, manned phones at a crisis center, was an interviewer at a social services organization, and taught sewing.
“Since I was 6 at my grandmother’s knee, I have been a sewist. When we first moved to Sequim in 1995, the American Sewing Guild did not exist on the North Olympic Peninsula. I had enjoyed being part of the Guild when I lived in Houston, so I decided to help start the Silverdale Chapter and was their president for four years.
“Volunteering and sewing have been my focus in Sequim. I started the local Fiber Arts Neighborhood Group in Sequim in the late 1990s, which is alive and well today. I helped when Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church started the Dungeness Valley Health and Wellness Clinic and was president of their board for three years. I have served on a number of Soroptimist International of Sequim committees and the Board. I helped start the Gala Gift Show, was president in 2013-14, and now help new members assimilate into the organization through a committee called Pathways.
“In March 2020, as a response to the sudden shortage of much-needed PPE for healthcare workers due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Monica Dixon asked me to sew masks. Soon that need was being met by dozens of sewists throughout the county, and I was redirected to making a prototype gown for doctors and nurses in OMC who needed cloth gowns during the PPE shortage. The work evolved to recruiting others to sew, asking friends and neighbors to donate their gently used sheets to serve as material for the gowns, and collecting and delivering the finished gowns, all in addition to making dozens of gowns.
“It is a huge honor and a big surprise to be nominated as one of the Grand Marshals for the 2021 Irrigation Festival Parade. Sequim is a wonderful place to live, not only is it beautiful and peaceful, but its people give back to the community in so many ways and the community recognizes those talents and efforts.”