Artists make Coupeville festive

Whidbey artist Barbara Lyter will offer her handmade purses, scarves and other wearables at the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival this weekend in Coupeville. - Nathan Whalen / Whidbey News-Times
Whidbey artist Barbara Lyter will offer her handmade purses, scarves and other wearables at the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival this weekend in Coupeville.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen / Whidbey News-Times

Nearly 200 artists will descend upon Coupeville this weekend to participate in one of the most popular festivals on Whidbey Island.

The Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival takes place Aug. 11 and 12. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Organizers have lined up 190 artists that will be manning booths throughout Coupeville’s historic downtown.

For Barbara Lyter, who owns On the Surface, the weekend festival marks her second time presenting  her handmade purses, scarves and other wearables.

“I’m really excited to be back into it again,” Lyter said as she showed off some of the items she will display, presently located at the Gary Oak Gallery in downtown Oak Harbor. She is also entering a felt vase in the juried art show at the Coupeville Recreation Hall.

Grace Tiffany, who is organizing the artists, estimated approximately 30 percent of the participants are first timers, with some coming as far away as New York, Missouri, California and Arizona.

Tiffany said that the popularity of the festival has expanded through “word of mouth” among artists. The festival’s quality art show and positive reputation help attract artists from across the country. She added that the festival has a significant waiting list for artists wanting a spot in a future festival.

Tiffany highlighted the work of several artists from around the Puget Sound region who are participating this year.

Joel Brown, a Deming artist, creates fountains from recycled farm plow disks.

Camano Island artist Lislie Whaley, owner of Moonswept Studio, has an in-home studio with kiln where she produces fused glass art that includes dishes, serve ware, wall art and jewelry.

Tacoma artist Tamara Christensen produces Art of Stone sculptures that are made of recycled products and are acid stained to create one-of-kind items.

The festival will also feature an “Artists in Action” area where festival goers can witness demonstrations by wood carvers, painters, quilters and drawers working in the grassy area next to the museum. Demonstrations go from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Coupeville Festival Association President Mike Dessert said the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival is likely one of the oldest continuously operated festivals in the state.

He said it takes approximately 200 artists and other volunteers to organize and operate the festival each year.

One problem he hopes will be rectified this year is the gridlock that occurred last year when the traffic backup reached a mile long. This year, two additional parking lots are available with volunteers directing drivers toward them. Shuttle buses, which cost $3 and benefit the Boys and Girls Club, will take folks from the lots to the festival.

The Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival over the last 48 years has donated more than $720,000 to the community in the form of grants and scholarships, Dessert said.

Even though the festival is at hand this weekend, work is already taking place to prepare for next year’s event. Organizers are looking for people who want to contribute to next year’s poster art. Artists have to be living in Washington state to be considered. Application deadline for the poster art is Sept. 15. For more information, go to


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