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Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival celebrates 45 years

Hayley Waterman, a Coupeville High School graduate and student at Western Washington University, will be showing her photography during the festival. - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Hayley Waterman, a Coupeville High School graduate and student at Western Washington University, will be showing her photography during the festival.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

In the 1960s, Treva Carter was asked by leaders in Coupeville to come up with a fundraiser to help benefit the historic part of Front Street, where many of the buildings at the time sat empty.

She did more than raise some money, she kicked off what turned out to be an annual tradition that draws thousands of visitors to the historic town. That tradition continues this weekend when the Coupeville Arts and Crafts festival celebrates its 45th year in existence.

When Carter started the festival, she was living out on the prairie near Coupeville. She was asked by several leaders to coordinate a festival that would revitalize downtown Coupeville. She said that she would need around six months to organize such a festival, but it turned out they wanted it done in three.

“There’s nothing like a deadline to motivate you,” Carter said. It was quite a challenge just to even get the downtown area to feel warm and welcoming to potential festival-goers.

“There were dandelions growing in the middle of the street,” she said. Her husband, Nick, used a scythe to cut down the thistle and weeds that cropped up around the empty buildings throughout downtown. The garden club, back then, decorated downtown with buckets of flowers.

The first Coupeville Arts and Crafts festival was a modest affair. It took place in a hotel basement that was located on the corner of Front and Main streets. The event was kicked off by Carolyn Hancock, Miss Naval Air Station 1964, who was escorted by Dennis Clark.

It featured the work of a smaller group of artists including the watercolor paintings of Tony Turpin; a weaver’s display coordinated by Thelma Brown and Doris Macomber; and a Beach Bounty display chaired by Virginia Mason. Jack and Marion Williams served kettles of clam chowder while the Historical Society served homemade pies.

Carter is a painter who still creates pieces to this day. She currently creates portraits using oil pastels. She said the first festival garnered a nice response from the community. The money raised from the festival was used to paint buildings and into efforts to encourage folks to open businesses in Coupeville.

While only a handful of people volunteered to organize the first festival, more than 100 volunteers are needed now.

Share a good story this year

To mark the festival’s 45th year, volunteers are gathering stories of people willing to share their experiences enjoying the annual event.

“We’d love to hear those stories,” said Anne Hallam, president of the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival Association. Organizers are also trying to put together an article sharing Carter’s experiences directing the festival during its first two years of existence.

This year’s festival will include more than 200 spaces filled with artists showing off and selling their work.

One of the youngest artists involved is 19-year-old Hayley Waterman. The 2007 graduate from Coupeville High School will be selling her photography as a way to make a little money during the summer break from Western Washington University. At Western, she is majoring in Cellular Molecular Biology and hopes to go into research.

She has been photographing sunsets and landscapes on Whidbey Island and the Olympic Peninsula for the past three years.

She’s a little apprehensive about showing her work in front of such a large audience.

“It’s going to be a learning experience,” Waterman said. Her booth at the festival will be called “Watershots.”

Grace Tiffany, who is coordinating the vendor space for the Arts and Crafts Festival, said there will be a good selection of vendors and artists this year. Many artists in the region are choosing to stay closer to home while the annual festival is attracting people from as far away as Missouri and Florida.

An eclectic variety of bands will be playing throughout the two-day festival. Performances start at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day and wrapping up at 6 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.

The festival kicks off Friday, Aug. 8, with the Art Gallery Show and Wine Reception from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Coupeville Recreation Hall. Tickets cost $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Folks will be able to cast their vote for the People’s Choice Award.

The Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival kicks into full gear Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then again on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hallam, who is finishing up her final year as festival president, said flags will be unfurled at the intersection of Main Street and Highway 20 to attract passing motorists into Coupeville.

It now takes the entire year for volunteers to organize and run the festival. Work starts in September with a retreat.

More information about the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival can be found on the Internet at www.coupevilleartsandcraftsfestival.org. To share a past festival experience email letters to info@coupevilleartsandcraftsfestival.org.

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