Town welcomes canoe racers to annual festival

The Penn Cove Water Festival celebrates Native American heritage. - photo submitted
The Penn Cove Water Festival celebrates Native American heritage.
— image credit: photo submitted

The Penn Cove Water Festival will once again honor the region’s Native American heritage with canoe races, performances and education.

The Water Festival allows Northwest tribes to share their heritage through tribal dancing, singing, storytelling, native artists’ booths and demonstrations.

The event also includes food such as fry bread and salmon cooked over an alder wood fire.

The annual festival kicks off 8 p.m. Friday, May 9, with Native American storyteller Lou Labombard sharing oral traditions around a bonfire at Pacific Rim Institute.

Saturday will feature traditional canoe races throughout the day.

The races run between the Coupeville boat launch and Coupeville wharf and can be seen from the wharf and along viewpoints on Front Street.

This year’s festival will be dedicated to the late artist Roger Purdue, said festival president Vicky Reyes.

Purdue’s art designs have been featured for decades as festival logos.

Prior to Purdue’s passing this year, he gifted many more pieces for future festivals.

Reyes said his artwork will be displayed at the Coupeville Library.

It will also be for sale at the Native Spirit Art Show and Island County Historical Museum.

A ceremony to honor  Purdue will be held before the Tsimshian dancers take the stage.

Penn Cove Shellfish is being honored this year for their years of support and sponsorship, Reyes said. Gifts will be presented to Ian and Rawle Jefferds 11 a.m. Saturday during the opening ceremony on Front Street.

There will be vendor booths along Front Street selling various items. Vistors can feast on salmon tacos with fry bread or a Central Whidbey Lions’ hot dog near the main stage.

Coupe’s Last Stand will be selling hot dogs down by the boat launch as well this year.

Adam Lorio, education program manager for the Samish Indian Nation, will be featured as he leads activities for youth and children on the wharf.

A juried art show featuring some of the Northwest’s Native American and Native American-theme artists will be held at the Coupeville Recreation Hall on May 10 and 11.

Demonstrations by many of the artists will take place during show hours.

In cooperation with Pacific Rim Institute, there will be a 2 p.m. shuttle run between the festival and institute to provide attendees the opportunity of experiencing one of the annual prairie tours held on Saturday.

For more information about the festival, go to


We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 22
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates