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Sculpting good times; Driftwood Day launches Saturday
If the turnout is anything like years past, hundreds of people will invade Windjammer Beach Park in Oak Harbor Saturday in the hopes of becoming the next driftwood art champions.
Still others with a less-competitive spirit may attend the fifth annual Driftwood Day just to watch people's imaginations at work or for a bit of fun in the sun. It's one of those events you just can't go wrong by attending, said K.C. Pohtilla, chair of the Driftwood Day committee and a commissioner with the Oak Harbor Arts Commission.
"You can't beat fun and free," Pohtilla said.
More than 40 teams showed up in 2009 – about 156 people – along with about 300 spectators. At least that many people are expected to attend Saturday. The event begins at 11:30 a.m. and will run until 3 p.m.
Driftwood Day, which is put on by the arts commission, began in 2006 as a way to garner attention to the newly formed group and to the downtown area, Pohtilla said. No one expected it to be such a hit with the public. Over 17 teams turned out that first year, with people spending hours scouring the beach for the perfect piece of driftwood for their sculptures.
While the event has gotten more and more popular every year, people also seem to be getting increasingly creative. In 2009, Pohtilla said she watched one woman sitting on the beach for hours. When she asked the woman why she wasn't participating, the woman responded by pointing down. To Pohtilla's amazement, the woman had built a driftwood flea circus complete with a tiny trapeze and elephants.
Most projects are much larger. One year, a man built a huge upright eagle with spread wings and talons, and last year a young boy built a Messerschmitt fighter plane. Pohtilla said the boy sat stock-still in the cockpit in order to become part of his creation.
Returning as lead judge is renowned Washington bronze sculptor Kevin Pettelle. Also judging will be Capt. G. Jay Johnston, the new commanding officer of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, his wife Cheryl Johnston, who is an art teacher, and Oak Harbor City Councilwoman Beth Munns.
Prize categories include: Windjammer Wonder, Neptune’s Delight, Mermaid’s Masterpiece, Seafair Sailor, High Tide, People’s Choice, Pirate’s Pride, Crows Nest, Floatsam and Jetsam, Poseidon’s Prize, Beach Comber, and Castaway.
New this year is the addition of food vendors, which will be selling items ranging from hot dogs and beverages to ice cream.
While there is no need to sign up early and the event is free to everyone, there are some rules. Anything can be used in sculptures but building materials have to have been washed up on the beach; no bringing stuff from home. Also, participants cannot start early and are discouraged from doing reconnaissance.
Other than that, once the event begins it's anybody's game.
"The bullhorn goes off and go for it," Pohtilla said.