Sequim’s Irrigation Festival returns this Saturday with a mix of in-person and virtual events for its 126th consecutive year. This is the second year for the event going virtual as provisions remain in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Julianne Coonts, the festival’s new volunteer executive director, said they’ve been planning the festival for more than eight months and waited as long as they could on determining what will be in-person and virtual.
“Our do-or-die moment was February to submit permits and make sure everything was in place and at that point (Clallam County) was in Phase 2 (of state regulations),” she said. “We decided to go forward with a similar event to last year.”
This year’s theme is “A Place For You to Rome” and celebrates when Sequim’s first headgate on the Dungeness River was lifted on May 1, 1895, with a celebration held one year later.
Festival supporters are “anxiously anticipating a full festival next year,” Coonts said.
“The festival is so important to our community, and we wanted to really continue the festival despite the diversity we’re facing,” she said. “We also wanted to honor the pioneers, and back when they dug the irrigation ditches they were thinking outside the box.
“We felt the best way to honor them and the festival was to think outside the box.”
The festival’s traditional two weekends of events to start May are once again condensed to one day. All events can be viewed from the festival’s website irrigationfestival.com and acebook.com/SequimIrrigationFestival, starting at the specified time on Saturday, May 8.
• Crazy Daze Breakfast, 8 a.m., virtual
• Innovative Arts and Crafts Fair, 9 a.m.-3 p.m,. in-person, with the Sequim Farmers Market at the Sequim Civic Center; virtual presentation from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The festival float and royalty will appear in the late morning, organizers said.
• Family Fun Day, 12:30 p.m. virtual activities, with packets available 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday from the Visitor Information Center and Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce offices at 1192 E. Washington St. as supplies last. Packets include free activities, stickers, a cupcake and more.
• Past Royalty Luncheon, 2 p.m.-2:30 p.m., virtual
• Logging Show, 3 p.m., virtual presentation of history of the show with no in-person events
• Car Show, 4 p.m., virtual presentation with no in-person events
• Grand Parade, 5 p.m., virtual and in-person procession. Organizers plan to release the parade route on Friday at the festival’s website and Facebook page. (more information below)
• Fireworks Show, after procession a virtual presentation of past shows
For the parade/procession, regulations allow limited numbers including the float, current and past royalty, the grand marshal, pioneers and a few other dignitaries but no other floats, Coonts said.
This year’s festival dignitaries include Grand Marshal Amanda Beitzel, Grand Pioneers Judy Markley and Dave Cameron, Honorary Pioneers Richard “Dick” Parker and Emily Westcott, and royalty queen Hannah Hampton and princesses Allie Gale, Zoee Kuperus and Sydney VanProyen.
Organizers said they don’t want to encourage people to gather like in years past with lawn chairs, but rather have a brief exchange along the route.
“We want people to have enough time to know where it’s going so that they can run down and see it,” Coonts said.
Travel plans after the festival remain unknown for the royalty and float.
“Most festivals have cancelled again this year or are pending for late in the season,” Coonts said.
“We will absolutely jump to take the float to go to another festival, but at this point we have nothing booked.”
With fundraisers such as carnival and other in-person events unavailable this year, Coonts said they appreciate festival sponsors and supporters during the pandemic.
“Financially it has been challenging but our sponsors have done a great job sticking with us,” she said.
For more information about the Sequim Irrigation Festival, visit irrigationfestival.com.