Irrigation Festival’s director role changes hands

After several years as the leader of the all-volunteer Sequim Irrigation Festival, Deon Kapetan is passing on the reins.

For the festival’s 129th season, Vickie Maples — a longtime festival volunteer and former bookstore owner — is its new executive director.

“She is the perfect candidate,” Kapetan said of Maples. “She has the respect of the (festival’s board) as the grant writer so she knows the ins and outs of the financial side (of the festival), has the respect of local businesses, and comes from a Sequim pioneer family.”

In June, festival board members unanimously voted for Maples to oversee festival events, sponsorships, administrative roles, permits, and more.

The Sequim Irrigation Festival’s bylaws also state the past director will remain on the board of directors for two years as well, Kapetan said.

Maples said she didn’t envision becoming director initially, but Kapetan and fellow festival volunteer Jean Wyatt spoke to her over time, encouraged her and pledged to support her through the change.

“The board is a good working team,” Maples said.

“Deon and Jean are committed to helping me with the transition (and there are) a lot of tasks Deon does that aren’t written down, too.”

New director’s background

Maples was owner of Pacific Mist Books until selling it in May 2023, which opened for two stints while she traveled back and forth to California to help her mother Myrna Cameron Maples.

Maples was born in Porterville, Calif., and would come up to Sequim every summer as a child. She comes from a long line of pioneers, including her great-grandfather Amos Cameron, a map maker for the U.S. government, and her grandfather Howard Cameron who had a farm at the intersection of Kitchen-Dick and Woodcock Roads. Her mother was also festival royalty. After high school, Myrna went to the University of Washington for two years and transferred to the University of California Pacific to be near an aunt and uncle. She met her husband Jim Maples and a few months later they wed in Sequim but lived and worked in California.

Vickie Maples grew up in California but moved to Sequim in 2006. She went on to become the executive director of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce from Aug. 2008-April 2011.

She said while serving on the festival’s board, one of her accomplishments was helping the festival become a 501(c)(4) nonprofit in 2017 and separate from the umbrella of the chamber as the organization grew.

Past director

Kapetan joined the festival’s board in 1999 and has served as the float away coordinator, Crazy Daze Breakfast chairman and the executive director.

She was awarded the Sequim-Dungeness Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year for 2019, and was also nominated in 2016.

Kapetan was nominated for her efforts to help the festival build its financial reserves and grow its operations as Washington state’s longest continuing festival.

She also helped keep the festival going during the Covid-19 pandemic and return closer to full capacity as health provisions were lifted.

During her time as director, Kapetan said she’s most proud the festival stayed 100 percent, all-volunteer.

“I think the community is proud of that too,” she said. “The goal is to keep it as a free community event as much as possible.”

One continued issue for the festival is a decline in workers available for carnivals post-Covid 19, so organizers have been unable to recruit an event to come to Sequim, Kapetan said.

The carnival was the festival’s biggest money maker, so they’ve had to turn to other events and avenues, she said.

“We want a carnival, and we’re continuing to work on it,” Kapetan said.

Next steps

The Sequim Irrigation Festival celebrates 129 years the first two weekends of May 2024 with more announcements to come in the next few months.

Maples said one of her goals this year is continuing to educate the public that they relocated the festival’s first weekend’s events to Carrie Blake Community Park.

“It was a huge undertaking at a good time, and now we’re going to fine tune it,” she said.

“This year we’ll work out the kinks, and start preparing for year 130 … we really wanted to celebrate 125 but couldn’t because of Covid, so we’re going to focus on an extra push for 130 years.”

Volunteers are always needed, Maples and Kapetan said, including a royalty float designer. For more information, visit or find the festival on Facebook for updates.

Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash/ Deon Kapetan, pictured here in 2016 at the Sequim Irrigation Festival float unveiling, recently stepped down as executive director of the festival and will serve on its board for two years.

Sequim Gazette file photo by Matthew Nash/ Deon Kapetan, pictured here in 2016 at the Sequim Irrigation Festival float unveiling, recently stepped down as executive director of the festival and will serve on its board for two years.