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Water Festival offers insight ‘camaraderie’
Morning clouds and cool temperatures didn’t stop visitors from heading to the Penn Cove Water Festival Saturday.
Racers from tribes all over the Pacific Northwest gathered in Coupeville to take part in the annual festival, which aims at maintaining a cultural relationship with Pacific Northwest Native Americans.
It’s really about a cultural exchange and understanding, said Vicky Reyes, festival president.
At the beginning of the festival, tribal leaders shared information about their culture by performing a song to kick off the festival.
Also prior to races starting a tribal prayer was performed.
Clouds burned off in the early afternoon, giving visitors a sunny chance to watch racing, which went from the wharf to the boat launch.
People watched from all over the area including the wharf, viewing decks on Front Street, along the walking path and boat launch.
Races including single person entries as well as multi-person entries.
“I love the camaraderie of the races,” Reyes said. “They (the different tribes) seem to enjoy the day with each other.”
Cash prizes were awarded to the top winners.
Local businesses and groups sponsored individual races, which covered the cost of the cash prizes.
Approximately $4,000 in prizes is awarded.
It takes a lot to put on the event each year, Reyes said.
The cost to put on the event is about $30,000. Funds are made up through fundraisers, such as the salmon taco booth at the event, community and tribal grants as well as countless in-kind donations.
In addition to the races, there are educational booths, children’s activities, tribal entertainment and booths offering tribal wares.
Each portion of the festival takes manpower to plan and operate.
“We’re hoping to get more public involvement next year,” Reyes said.
Organizers are already reviewing this year’s event and making note for the next festival, slated for Saturday, May 10, 2014.
Each year the water festival date is dependent on Penn Cove’s tide charts.