The Tsimshian Haayuuk Dancers weave and spin in a dance at the center of a captivated crowd at the Penn Cove Water Festival. A speaker discussed the symbolism of their cultural garb and spoke of the significance of the traditional dance                                (Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times)

The Tsimshian Haayuuk Dancers weave and spin in a dance at the center of a captivated crowd at the Penn Cove Water Festival. A speaker discussed the symbolism of their cultural garb and spoke of the significance of the traditional dance (Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times)

Penn Cove Water Festival held under sunny skies

The crowd cheered, children waved, supporters beat drums and the canoe racers paddled as fast as they could during Saturday’s 28th annual Penn Cove Water Festival.

It was clear skies and sunshine the entire day for the festival.

Howie Moose and his two children showed up with drums and enthusiasm to support his wife, Cheyenne, who was racing for the River Spirit Canoe Club team from the North Vancouver Skwah tribe.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said of the festival.

The canoe races had a greater attendance of tribes than the year prior due to less scheduling conflicts with other regional races, according to canoe race coordinator Susan Berta of the Orca Network.

The 2019 festival was held on the first weekend in May instead of the second so that the tides would be optimal for the main event, the canoe races, entertainment lead and Native American advisor Lou Labombard said.

“Many weeks were put into the planning of this year’s festival,” Labombard said in an email.

He tells cultural stories each year at the festival, teaching about myths and legends.

“Storytelling is a way that non literate societies passed on their concepts of reality and the cultural explanations of how things came to be,” he said, and also how cultural norms and values are passed on.

At the street fair, vendors sold Native American-style artwork, ran educational and children’s craft booths and sold food such as “Salish Tacos,” or salmon served on fry bread.

Speakers and storytellers presented throughout the day.

Other entertainment included the Tsimshian Haayuuk Dancers, who danced at the street fair for an hour to close out the festival.

Photo provided by Christopher Bradley, a pilot on one of the safety boats

Photo provided by Christopher Bradley, a pilot on one of the safety boats

Photo provided by Christopher Bradley, a pilot on one of the safety boats

Photo provided by Christopher Bradley, a pilot on one of the safety boats

(Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times)                                Four-year-old Delilah Rodriguez gets a unicorn painted on her face by Paula Mihok, of the Central Whidbey Lions Club. Delilah’s father, Fernando Rodriguez, said it was their first time visiting the festival.

(Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times) Four-year-old Delilah Rodriguez gets a unicorn painted on her face by Paula Mihok, of the Central Whidbey Lions Club. Delilah’s father, Fernando Rodriguez, said it was their first time visiting the festival.

(Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times)                                The Tsimshian Haayuuk Dancers weave and spin in a dance at the center of a captivated crowd at the Penn Cove Water Festival. A speaker discussed the symbolism of their cultural garb and spoke of the significance of the traditional dance

(Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times) The Tsimshian Haayuuk Dancers weave and spin in a dance at the center of a captivated crowd at the Penn Cove Water Festival. A speaker discussed the symbolism of their cultural garb and spoke of the significance of the traditional dance

(Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times)                                For the canoe pullers the hard work doesn’t stop when the race is over. Each team, including this team with the Swinomish tribe, hauls their sturdy canoes out of the water and to their vehicles to make way for the next competing teams. Paddlers train for months in preparation for the competition.

(Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times) For the canoe pullers the hard work doesn’t stop when the race is over. Each team, including this team with the Swinomish tribe, hauls their sturdy canoes out of the water and to their vehicles to make way for the next competing teams. Paddlers train for months in preparation for the competition.

A full day of races were scheduled during the Water Festival’s 28th year.

A full day of races were scheduled during the Water Festival’s 28th year.

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