Following traffic delays, minor collisions, and an estimated 3,000 extra vehicles on US Highway 101, two friends put Sequim Lavender Weekend in perspective.
“It was worth it for the ice cream,” said Caroline Hamilton of Gig Harbor and Michelle Huffmaster of Tacoma.
The pair along with lavender first-timer Kim Baltadonis of Tacoma visited Purple Haze Lavender Farm to take in its Purple Haze Daze festival and its relaxed atmosphere, they said.
“It feels like visiting someone’s house,” Huffmaster said.
Purple Haze was one of 19 farms participating in Sequim Lavender Weekend from July 20-22 with some farms hosting festivals of their own, such as Jardin du Soleil, Olympic Lavender Farm and Washington Lavender Farm, while others only opened for the weekend, like Blackberry Forest and Troll Haven.
The weekend continues to grow, even last minute, after 22 years of events including the Sequim Lavender Festival.
One farm, Purple Path Farm, opened just days before the weekend south of Purple Haze after 10 years of being farmed for Purple Haze products. Jake and Chelsea Reichner opted to open up their farm to the public for the first time without much notice or affiliation and offer U-Pick lavender and U-Paint, where you could purchase a canvas and capture their fields in paint.
Other farms encourage people to come earlier, during, and/or whenever it fits their summer schedule inside or outside of Lavender Weekend.
Owners of Washington Lavender Farm expanded their offerings to a 10-day festival.
“It was fantastic,” said Janet Abbott, co-owner of the farm and George Washington Inn.
“We have a lot of people who want to beat the traffic and crowds. That first weekend (of our festival), we probably had two-thirds as many people as this weekend for Sequim Lavender Weekend.”
Their vendor total remained the same both weekends, she said, and some stayed all week long and want to return for next year’s likely 10-day Washington Lavender Festival.
The prompt for expanding their festival followed traffic issues in 2017, including the closure of the McDonald Creek Bridge.
“We had people telling us it took five hours to get to us from the Hood Canal Bridge,” Abbott said. “We have people who love our farm but couldn’t get here.”
So the Abbotts advertised heavily on social media and added several signs directing drivers in the area to their festival.
“We wanted to make sure people knew we more than just open. We were having a festival,” Abbott said.
That led to successes, such as selling out their Lavender Afternoon Tea events the first weekend and happy vendors.
Sequim Lavender Experience
Washington Lavender Farm joins nine other farms to promote the “Sequim Lavender Experience” all summer.
Bruce McCloskey, co-owner of B&B Family Farm, said they invited all lavender farms/businesses in the area to participate in the concept with the goal to promote the idea that “you can enjoy lavender all summer, not just in Lavender Weekend.”
“There are activities going on at the farms from early July to early September,” he said.
“We’re trying to make people aware. You don’t have to fight the crowds that weekend. Not that we’re against it. We love that weekend.”
Sequim Lavender Experience isn’t a formal group with dues or bylaws, McCloskey said.
“It’s just a group of us with a lot of things in common looking to help all of us,” he said.
Rick Olson, co-owner of Lavender Connection, said they hope to spread out business over the summer, too, through the effort.
“It’s a positive, not a negative,” he said.
“If we can spread it all out, it’s more beneficial for all of us and allows us to grow our whole summer here.”
Some of those many events at farms include Jungible Music Sessions with The True Loves at 6 p.m. Friday, July 27, at Jardin du Soleil; Hymn Sing by the Sea from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at Washington Lavender Farm; and the sixth annual Tour de Lavender bicycle tour on Saturday, Aug. 4 at several lavender farms.
Sequim Lavender Festival
On the eastside of Sequim, the Sequim Lavender Festival changed its venue for its annual Street Fair from Fir Street to Carrie Blake Community Park due to anticipated construction.
“Based on opinions from visitors and vendors it was a huge success,” said Debbie Madden, executive director of the Sequim Lavender Festival. “We got a lot of positive comments between the venue and park layout.”
This year the Street Fair featured its LavenderStock music on the James Center for Performing Arts’ stage, and about 180 vendors including artists, Sequim Lavender Growers Association farms, and nonprofits.
“More people came and stayed longer than usual,” Madden said of the park.
While no formal decision has been made, she hopes the festival returns to the park in 2019.
“My desire, and many visitors and vendors hope we get to do this forever here,” Madden said. “Everyone said this makes sense.”
The festival also featured nine farms/nurseries open to the public with some of them remaining open through the summer.
With big smiles in the lavender fields, first responders said Sequim’s crime and collisions went about as expected.
Sequim Police Chief Sheri Crain said lavender events in the city went fine.
“Seems like there was heavy attendance but there were no more issues than normal,” she said.
At the Street Fair, there were four reported incidents: one for a hot animal in a vehicle, one unattended child, one parking complaint, one lost property but no thefts or collisions by the park.
“From our perspective, the event was great,” she said.
Assistant Fire Chief Dan Orr with Clallam County Fire District 3 agreed with that sentiment.
He said firefighters made five runs to the park for routine calls such as dehydration.
The fire district operated the festival’s first aid booth and brought a fire truck for children to sit in.
“I like this venue a lot better,” Orr said. “Our hope is we keep it there.”
Madden said she was grateful to all volunteers, and first responders for their help at the Street Fair, including the fire district, Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, and the US Coast Guard who did a fly-by.
On the highway, Trooper Chelsea Hodgson with Washington State Patrol said they had extra patrols out July 20-22.
That led to 389 traffic stops from Sequim to Discovery Bay from noon on Friday-10 p.m. Sunday.
In that span, there were 10 collisions, too, she said.
The City of Sequim continues to coordinate Sequim Lavender Weekend with an official map of all of the lavender farms on tour, community events, shuttle information and more.
“From our perspective, everything seemed to go really well,” said Barbara Hanna, Sequim communications and marketing director.
That included two days of the Sequim Farmers Market on the Civic Center plaza, an in-city shuttle offered by the Sequim Boys & Girls Club, and the many lavender-related events. Since the city started coordinating Sequim Lavender Weekend’s offerings, Hanna said it’s become easier to streamline the information to locals and visitors.
“With some of the tools the city has put together, such as the official map and website, from what I hear they see the value in that,” she said.
For more information on Sequim Lavender Weekend, visit sequimlavenderweekend.com.
For more information on Sequim Lavender Experience, visit sequimlavender.org.
For more information on the Sequim Lavender Festival, visit lavenderfestival.com.