Water Festival makes waves in Coupeville

People had a cool place to go Saturday for what turned out to be the warmest day of the year so far.

After weeks of dreary weather, the sun finally came out Saturday and brightly shone on the Penn Cove Water Festival.

The annual May festival featured the canoe races, Native American performances, arts and crafts and a host of education displays.

Cheryl Bradkin, one of the residents who helped organize the Water Festival, said the warm, sunny day helped make the day a success.

"The weather was one thing that was spectacular," Bradkin said.

She pointed out several new features that appeared on Front Street this year. Oregon artist Russell Morton brought his beaded tapestry, "The Four Seasons of Water," to the festival. He spent the festival working on the tapestry while explaining its meaning to curious festival goers.

"He worked the whole festival," Bradkin said. One of the images on Russell's tapestry is of Crown Point, which is located south of Whidbey Island.

She said there were a number of new high-quality arts and crafts that were on hand this year. A new carver and an artist specializing in Native American-style textile paintings also participated.

There were also the traditional events that make the water festival a fun day for families.

Tribes from Canada and the Puget Sound region descended on Coupeville to participate in the annual canoe races. Several clubs brought several larger, more ceremonial, family canoes to start the races.

Swil Kanim performed with his violin, Lou LaBombard shared stories and the Shifty Sailors kicked off the day by performing on the stage.

Daniel Bour was driving up the Island from Kirkland when he and his family decided to check out the water festival as they drove past the town.

"We were on our way to a state park and we thought we'd stop over here," Bour said as his daughter, Bonnie, had her face painted. Other children were also busy building small wooden boats and floating them in nearby pools.

Bradkin said the throng enjoyed the new food available for the first time this year. In addition to fry bread, there was also barbecue, Asian spring rolls and shaved ice, plus the offerings of the restaurants scattered throughout downtown Coupeville.

With the festival complete the organizers are going to debrief in about two weeks and then start planning for the 2009 Penn Cove Water Festival.

For more information about the Penn Cove Water Festival, go to

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