New leaders bail out Penn Cove Water Festival

The long-standing group of leaders of a popular Coupeville festival is getting some much-needed help.

During a recent meeting of the Penn Cove Water Festival Association, new leadership was named to take over from the previous leaders, who have been organizing the annual Native American canoe races for 20 years.

“The existing PCWFA board was very pleased and relieved to have the meeting end on a positive note, know the Penn Cove Water Festival tradition will continue and we look forward to transition with the new volunteers and board members,” said former board member Susan Berta in an email.

New board president Lisa Haas, from Oak Harbor, has a Native American background and she has organized events for the Karuk Tribe of Northern California.

“I heard possibly that nobody would be running the Penn Cove Water Festival anymore and that would be a travesty for the island,” Haas said. She has been living on the island for two years and said the festival is a great way to keep tradition alive.

The current form of the Penn Cove Water Festival is a one-day event that features canoe race paddlers hailing from tribes throughout the Salish Sea. In addition, Native American dancers, singers and vendors are also prominent features of the annual event.

Haas hopes to see the event expand next year to include a parade where tribal competitors will march through town. She hopes to expand the festival’s advertising and increase interest in the celebration.

In addition to Haas, Vicky Reyes was named treasurer and Gary Piazzon was named secretary of the association.

A small group of volunteers has been organizing the festival each year for the past two decades. While the event has been popular and a plethora of volunteers show up the day of festival, they have had trouble find year around help and struggled to organize the festival.

Haas is meeting the former association board members and she is scheduling a festival meeting for Monday, Oct. 3, 6:30 p.m. at the Coupeville United Methodist Church.


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