Letters to the Editor

Community: Water Festival future in doubt

Every spring since 1992, WSU Beach Watchers have sponsored Penn Cove Water Festival in Coupeville. The original Water Festival began in the 1920s and ended in the ‘30s. Revived in 1992, the present-day festival is comprised of two key components: educational activities and exhibits in town, and Native American canoe races at Captain Coupe Park.

After the event, lead organizers of various parts of the event meet to evaluate the festival and determine its future. We have held two meetings since May 10 and have a third scheduled for Monday, July 21, at 1 p.m., in Island County meeting room 131 (adjacent to the WSU Extension Office), and we invite community input.

Many Whidbey volunteers and organizations contribute to the festival, but the Beach Watchers have been the key organizers. As most of you know, Washington State University Beach Watchers is a volunteer program. The WSU Extension mission is education, and the Beach Watchers focus on helping people make educated choices about the use of our land and water resources.

The Beach Watcher organization is spread thin, both monetarily and in terms of personnel. We are a non-profit group and depend on support from a variety of organizations, businesses, and individuals. Some of the serious questions we are addressing are:

Does Beach Watchers have the resources to continue the festival?

Are there others who will partner with us to continue the festival?

Is entertainment an essential part of the festival?

Do we continue to invite craft vendors?

Are the Native American races essential to the festival?

If you would like to take an active role in determining the Penn Cove Water Festival’s future, please attend our next meeting on July 21. Your input is welcome in letter or e-mail form as well. Letters may be mailed to Roxallanne Kelly Medley at 701 NW Madrona Way, Coupeville, WA 98239; email to rmedley@whidbey.net.

Roxallanne Kelly Medley

Coordinator, Penn Cove Water Festival

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