The first Oak Harbor Music and Jazz Festival was a roaring success as hundreds of people crowded into Pioneer Way over the three-day weekend.
The event was kicked off in style Friday night as Oak Harbor City Councilwoman Tara Hizon and Darren McCoy, the high school choir director, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Then Mayor Scott Dudley introduced Oak Harbor’s first and only Olympic champion, Marti Malloy.
Malloy won a bronze medal in judo at the London Olympics. She apologized to the crowd on Pioneer Way for not visiting the city sooner, but said her life has become a whirlwind since winning the medal.
“After 20 years, I saw my dream of winning an Olympic medal come true,” she said.
Malloy hung out on stage as Tambourine Sky played, the first in a line-up of more than 20 bands and artists from across the nation, including Groove For Thought and Steve Trembley.
Michael-John Paparella, the man who came up with the idea for the festival, said the event was a huge hit. The streets were filled with people, including visitors from as far away as Canada and New York.
“It was everything I envisioned and more,” he said. “There were people dancing in the streets. A few times it brought tears to my eyes.”
Paparella said a couple from New York were in Seattle when they heard about the festival in Oak Harbor and came to visit. They loved it so much they stayed an extra day.
Nobody wanted to go home as the Chris Eger Band closed out the festival Sunday night. Paparella said the mayor granted special permission for the music to continue an extra 20 minutes.
Paparella said even the band members were pleasantly surprised at how well the festival was organized, even though it’s a first-time event. Some of the bands have already signed up to come back next year.
Margaret Livermore, a festival organizer, agreed the musical event was a huge success.
“The streets were packed for three days,” she said.
Livermore said the festival raised about $8,000. Some of the money will be used as “seed money” for next year’s festival, while the rest will be donated to the Blue Fox Drive In and used to start a music scholarship.