Arts and Entertainment

STANDING ROOM ONLY: Getting stupid in Greenbank

In the realm of stupid human tricks, none is more purely entertaining than that touching gastronomic fiasco known historically as the Pie Eating Contest. And please don’t get me wrong when I say stupid; no disparagement is intended. Rather, I mean to imply a general sense of embracing humanity.

Inarguably, stupidity is one of the central traits of our collective character, and as with any dominant characteristic of the species, its manifestations are infinite. Which is to say, there is a glorious array of different expressions of individual stupidity, as diverse as snowflakes and colorful as a box of Crayolas. In general, however, stupidity can be lumped into two distinct categories: harmless and harmful.

It goes without saying that any harmless manifestation of human stupidity — such as square dancing or stubbing a toe, for example — should be properly celebrated. The guiding principle of such acts is that they are victimless, in that they do no damage to anyone save the person indulging in the stupid behavior, who is perfectly free to do whatever he or she wants to him or herself.

Conversely, harmful forms of stupidity should be roundly condemned and discouraged. Under this rubric we might include such dumb activities as administering wedgies, shooting guns into the air out of happiness, throwing kittens on barbecues, partaking of insider trading, dropping bombs on innocent civilians, beating people up for how they look or what they think, and driving on the wrong side of the road. These things aren’t funny; they’re just mean.

Competitive pie eating, on the other hand, is funny as all get out, and the only people who suffers are the ones stupid enough to inhale all that filling and crust under the constraints of a stopwatch and in full view of an audience. How stupid can you get? God bless anyone who tries it, though. They sure put life in perspective.

This Saturday and Sunday, July 27-28, Whidbey Islanders have a chance to witness not one, but two day’s worth of really stupid pie eating contests at the annual Loganberry Festival at Greenbank Farm. Of course, there will be other activities taking place, not quite as stupid, but perhaps equally entertaining, including music, wine-tasting, food-eating and the selling of various arts and crafts. Local acts scheduled to perform include Janie Cribbs, Shifty Sailors, Island Strings and the Pickled Herring Band; there will be Doodle Dogs, Mexican cuisine, Kettle Corn, shaved ice and curly fries. Jim Freeman, along with Whidbey poet Peter Lawlor, will emcee the festivities. For a more complete listing of goings-on, call 678-7171 or check out the farm’s website at

One-two-three, two-two-three... watch the toes! Anyone wishing to get their ya-yas out Saturday night can participate in the South Whidbey Parks & Rec dance at Bayview Hall, with basic instruction taught by Seattle caller Tom Wimmer starting at 7:30 p.m. and music/dancing starting a half hour later. Live music will be provided by Island Contraband, led by Devin Ossman (the “Pied Piper of Whidbey”), who promises a dancerific mix of jigs, reels and waltzes. Novices are welcome. Cost is $6 adults/$3 kids. Call (360) 221-8430 for more information, including how to carpool from Oak Harbor and Coupeville.

On Sunday, July 28, you can enjoy the delightful sounds of the Pacific Brass band as they are drowned out by the buzzing grind of a recalcitrant lawnmower throwing gravel from across the street at Coupeville’s Town Park, sponsored by Concerts on the Cove. Children and students are free, everyone else pays. (However, if you don’t feel like paying, you can simply sit beyond the roped area and listen to the music, which is nice, with the added benefit of not being stuck in a crowd). Starts at about 2 p.m. For more information on future shows, times and season tickets, call 678-4453.

Starting Thursday and running through the weekend, Port Townsend hosts the annual Jazz Festival, with shows taking place at Fort Warden’s McCurdy Pavilion and 12 other downtown locations. Featured musicians include John Clayton (who will perform a tribute set for Ray Brown, who passed away this month), Ingrid Jensen, Dave Frishberg and many more. To order tickets or get more info, call 1-800-385-5320 or visit Centrum’s website at

Contact Rick Levin at rlevin@

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