Penn Cove Water Festival returns

A community event to honor local waters is making a comeback.

A community event to honor local waters and the indigenous people who have long cared for them is making a comeback.

The Penn Cove Water Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 14 at Coupeville Town Park. It will be a scaled-back event, festival President Nina Goddeau said, because with COVID-19 case rates fluctuating, organizers were unsure until recently whether they would be able to hold the event at all.

The regular canoe races will not take place this year, and there will be fewer vendors, but the event will still feature a traditional water ceremony at 10 a.m. and musical performances and indigenous storytelling from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We tried to keep the essence of it,” Goddeau said.

Performers this year will be The Shifty Sailors, Peter Ali, J. P. Falcon Grady, Lou Labombard, the Tsimshian Haayuuk Dancers, Rona Yellow Robe and Bruce Witham.

The festival will also feature activities for children and food from some local vendors.

Goddeau said the festival’s purpose is to celebrate and honor the Native Americans and their dedication to preserving the lands and waters in this area. As such, it’s important that people know the event is still ongoing.

“We’re still here, we haven’t forgot, we aren’t going to let it die,” she said.

Lou Labombard will also be telling indigenous stories prior to the festival, at 7 p.m. May 13 at the Pacific Rim Institute in Coupeville.