WEEKEND: Festival celebrates Dungeness River life
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Kyah Fukunaga, 10, a fifth-grade student at Helen Haller Elementary School in Sequim, looks at a stuffed cougar at an educational display set up by the Washington Department of Natural Resources during the Dungeness River Festival last year at Sequim's Railroad Bridge Park.

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

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The 14th annual Dungeness River Festival schedule beckons with entertainment and education.
Throughout the two-day festival, which begins today, will be:
■ Nature activities and exhibits, including Animal Olympics and fish printing on paper or fabric. Participants can bring white T-shirts or pillow cases, for instance.
■ Food wraps, sandwiches, soups, salads and fry bread.
■ Informational booths from state, county and tribal governments, and environmental organizations from throughout the North Olympic Peninsula.
The Olympic Driftwood Sculptors' fifth anniversary art show will overlap the festival.
It begins Saturday and will continue at the Dungeness River Audubon Center in Railroad Bridge Park, 2151 W. Hendrickson Road, on Sunday.
Hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.
Events scheduled the two days are:

■ 10:30 a.m. — Five Acre School Sound Waves, marimba music, River Stage.
■ 11 a.m. — River walk, Bob Boekelheide, meet at the information table.
■ 11:30 a.m. to noon — Sound Waves, River Stage.
■ 2:30 p.m. — Drums, Baskets, and Stories of the Jamestown S'Klallam People with storyteller and tribal elder Elaine Grinnell, river center.
■ 3 p.m. — Natural landscaping walk led by Joe Holtrop, Clallam County Conservation District, meet at the information table; preregistration required.
■ 3 p.m. — Aspire Dance and Music Academy, River Stage.

■ 10 a.m. — Jamestown S'Klallam drummers and singers, traditional welcome ceremony.
■ 11 a.m. — The Young Fiddlers, River Stage.
■ Noon to 4 p.m. — Singer/songwriter Bill Volmut, roaming around Railroad Bridge Park.
■ 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. — Jazzercise, River Stage.
■ 1 p.m. — River walk, Bob Boekelheide, meet at infor table.
■ 2 p.m. — “How They Built the Bridge,” Ken Wiersema, meet at the information table.
■ 2:30 p.m. — Port Angeles Community Drum Circle, River Stage.
NOTE: “Today” and “tonight” refer to Friday, Sept. 27.

SEQUIM –– From its source 7,300 feet up in the Olympic Mountains, the Dungeness River carries four species of salmon and enough water for 97 miles of irrigation ditches to water lush farmland in the 172,517-acre valley that lines its 28-mile journey to the bay.

The river will be celebrated this weekend during the 14th annual Dungeness River Festival, an all-out bash of educational walks along the river and through the forest, live music, dancing, drumming, folklore and food from the river.

With a theme of “Think Downstream . . . Go Green!,” the festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Saturday at the Dungeness River Audubon Center in Railroad Bridge Park, 2151 W. Hendrickson Road.

Staff and volunteers at the Dungeness River Audubon Center throw a party for the river each September when it is swimming with the salmon that bring in a menagerie of other life, as it has for its history and throughout the 100 years of Sequim.

Salmon bringing life

“With the fish as thick as they are this year, this river is really supporting all kinds of life,” said Bob Boekelheide, former director of the river center who will lead an educational walk through the woods at 11 a.m. today.

The salmon, particularly evident with this year's huge run of pinks, have fed the valley's animals and people — and drawn them to the river — for thousands of years, said Elaine Grinnell, an elder of the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe and one of its premier storytellers.

“It's the salmon that brought all the animals to the river and how the river has always fed life in this valley,” Grinnell said.

S'Klallam storyteller

Grinnell will speak about the “Drums, Baskets and Stories of the Jamestown S'Klallam People” at 2:30 p.m. today.

Jamestown S'Klallam drummers and singers will lead a traditional welcome ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The river's ancient bed can provide modern landowners tips on how best to landscape their properties, said Joe Holtrop, director of the Clallam Conservation District.

Holtrop will lead a walk at 3 p.m. today to draw attention to the natural landscaping options evidenced along the river.

“It's really the best way to see what will grow best here,” Holtrop said. “Go out and look at what's been there.”

The river also has been a component of transportation throughout the valley's history.

Railroad bridge

Ken Wiersema will discuss a portion of that at 2 p.m. Saturday when he leads a walk onto the 1915-vintage Milkwaukee, St. Paul & Chicago Railroad bridge that lends its name to the park.

The Animal Olympics will run throughout the festival, allowing celebrants to hop like frogs, run like elk and imitate many of the animals that call the river home.

Aspire Dance and Music Academy students will show off their hip-hop, ballet and jazz-dancing skills along with their special Splinter Project at 3 p.m. today


Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 27. 2013 8:35AM
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