Humbled by public’s trust in festival board

Editor,

At this time of gratitude, and on behalf of the board of directors of the Oak Harbor Music Festival, I would like to express our sincere thanks to our city council, the LTAC Committee, and to all the members of our Whidbey community who have made the festival a sensational event with benefits that extend across our island and far beyond its shores.

As noted in last week’s Whidbey News-Times, the council recently approved and awarded the festival a $29,000 grant from local hospitality tax revenues, to be allocated to marketing and operations. A portion of the grant will help the festival bring you, once again, the best musical entertainment we can find. But most of these dollars will go straight toward spreading the word far and wide about three days of love, joy and free music in the streets of our amazing community.

A huge thanks is due to the work of the LTAC Committee, recognizing their role is not easy, and council for their decision to approve the suggested grant dollars. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg, both in financial support and human power, that makes our festival what it is.

Event sponsors, small business support and individual donations from all over North Whidbey provide the funds we need to hire the bulk of the bands, set up the stages, and ensure the safety of our guests. It’s their generosity that creates the financial engine to make the Festival strong and robust but continue to move the proceeds into scholarships awarding them to Island County high school seniors furthering education in music.

The festival relies on many hundreds of our community’s generous volunteers, giving thousands of hours of their personal time because this is a great thing for our town. There are no salaries on our staff. Our founders, our directors and every single event volunteer, setting up, taking down, serving beer, selling merchandise, helping our food and craft vendors, crewing the stages and green rooms, staffing the parking lots and campground… every single one of them is vital to the event’s success and not a single one asks anything but a smile and a thank you in return. We are lucky to live here, with such a host of giving people, aren’t we?

And the people come. They come from all over the Northwest and beyond, they shun the high price and massive hassles of Bumbershoot. They come to Oak Harbor, and while they’re here they not only enjoy the music, they spend their dollars here on lodging, meals and retail goods and services. Just a few years ago, a walk along Pioneer Way on Labor Day looked like a trip through a ghost town movie set.

People actually left our gorgeous island to go elsewhere for the long weekend. Now, thanks to the hard work and grass-roots generosity of our community, take that walk and hear top-notch entertainment, taste an unbelievable variety of foods and beverages, laugh, sing, dance, smile and share the good vibes with tens of thousands of neighbors and new friends from far and wide.

We are the board of directors, but this is your festival, Oak Harbor. You’ve made it that way, and we are humbled by your trust in us to keep it going strong.

Many thanks again to the city council and LTAC Committee, but beyond that, we are thankful to all of our community for your support and generosity.

Cynthia Mason, president

Oak Harbor Music Festival

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