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Coupeville Arts & Crafts Festival Saturday, Sunday
This year, Benye Webber says she is going to kick back and let someone else run the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival.
This year’s festival is Saturday and Sunday. It’s held along Coupeville’s historic waterfront.
“We’re going to do some shopping, see what’s there,” Webber said.
“We’re excited about it and thrilled to see where it’s gone.”
Webber, who has been involved in the festival in one way or another since 1965, said that while specifics of the festival have changed, its goal hasn’t.
“The vision hasn’t changed,” Webber said. “I can see it going on for another 50 years.
Webber was chairwoman of the information booth since she was president roughly a dozen years ago.
“It’s the heart and soul of many of us,” Webber said.
“When I came here, I felt like I had come home.”
Though the festival now takes place on the street, the first Arts and Crafts Festival took place mostly inside the buildings, according to Mike Dessert, current festival president.
Dessert has taken on the role of festival historian and has gathered as much historical information as he could.
For the first festival, Albert Heath worked out a color scheme for painting the buildings so they would contrast with Penn Cove as a background; thus, blue was not used, Dessert said.
History was as important then as it is now to the community, and local historian Jimmie Jean Cook gave talks on the history of Front Street buildings.
The festival included children’s activities, displays of local artists’ work, and the first art gallery in Coupeville.
Art was collected from both the Coupeville and Oak Harbor school districts and displayed in Races’ drug store as the “Children’s Gallery.” It was rumored to be very popular, Dessert said.
Grace and Alexander streets were unpaved, as was the Coupeville Recreation Hall parking lot. The areas weren’t paved until the 1970s, Webber said.
“It was all about saving Front Street,” Webber said. “I was simply enthralled with that.”
According to her, there were about 25 artists in the first festival, and according to newspaper reports of the day, it drew roughly 2,000 people.
Today, the festival features hundreds of artists and artisans, drawing more than 10,000 people to the event each year.
“It really draws people,” Webber said. “It’s because they’re so friendly and so giving. We were so welcomed by so many people.”
“From the start, the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival has been all about the community and its volunteers,” according to Dessert.
“This great festival had its very beginning rooted in the community and its willingness to come together and do something to make their community a better place.”