The 2017 Oak Harbor Music Festival took Helene Valdez back a few decades.
“Everyone was dancing in the streets Saturday night,” she said while taking in Teen Talent winners who opened Sunday’s lineup of bands and solo acts.
“It was a real dance party. We use to do that on the City Beach during junior high and high school,” said Valdez, Oak Harbor High School Class of 1972.
“That’s what it felt like, only 10 times better.”
Valdez and husband Ralph beamed with pride as grandson Cole Valdez performed, one of seven winners in the Teen Talent category, a break with tradition when only one act had been spotlighted.
“It brings tears to my eyes,” Ralph Valdez remarked. “So many people came out to support him, it was really touching.”
Headliner Marc Broussard of Louisiana packed in people by the hundreds as the closing act Saturday night. As far as the eye could see, dancers lined Pioneer Way from Island Thrift Stage to Wrights Crossing Stage 300 yards away.
“Incredible, just incredible,” said Larry Mason, part of the nine-member board that organizes the annual three-day free event.
Broussard’s mix of soul, rock, rhythm and blues kept people on their feet for 90 minutes. He played from his recently-released album, S.O.S. 2, of which 50 percent of profits benefit City of Refuge in New Orleans.
The event, in its sixth year, went off smoothly with no reported problems, save many complaints and comments about the Labor Day Weekend heat wave.
“Every year we’ve been here and it’s great fun, said Mollie Waldron, cooling off in the shade at a picnic table Sunday afternoon while her children, Emilie and Max, munched on Pete & Jay’s Spring Fries — a really long potato sliced, fried and stuck with a long toothpick.
“But last year, I didn’t get a fry on a stick. It’s so good,” declared 8-year-old Emilie.
South Seattle Pete & Jay owners, Pete Lofgren and Jay Doran, whose motto is: “Our fries come on a stick!” called their creation “South Korean street food.”
“We opened exactly one year ago at this festival,” Lofgren said. “We’ve done great business. I can tell because I can barely move my hand in the morning.”
With her long blonde hair in a ponytail, plucking her ukulele and sweetly singing, Rosahlee Van Kappel, 14, stole a few hearts.
Picked as a winner in June for the Teen Talent performance, her family has since moved to Gilbert, Ariz., but she flew back to Oak Harbor to be in the musical festival.
“I kept seeing rainbows while you were singing,” a woman in the crowd told Van Kappel as she spoke to friends after her performance.
The teen giggled, gushed and told her, “I’ve been singing, like, forever. I’ve only been in talent shows. It was so scary up there on that big stage.”
Other Teen Talent winners who performed: Elsian Atienza, Hailey Coates, Talia Black and Alexander Amick.
The nonprofit organization presenting the music festival provides scholarships for local high school students interested in pursuing music with revenues from merchandise sales and donations.
See some of the shows: www.facebook.com/OHMusicFest