“Good music and good food” defined the Oak Harbor Music Festival for Anitza Cotto.
It was Cotto’s second time at the event after moving to Oak Harbor from Puerto Rico.
“The first time I came here, I was alone,” she said. “But the music was really good… It’s very welcoming.”
More than 30 bands took to the two stages on Pioneer Way over the weekend.
Headliner James Barker Band performed in front of a packed street and beer garden Saturday night, but the 2018 Juno winner of Country Album of the Year wasn’t the only the big draw.
Cotto said she could listen to the Americana rock band Heels to the Hardwood “all night.” Oak Harbor resident Veronica Martino enjoyed the Seattle R&B act Decent at Best.
The Tacoma act’s lead singer Andy Rupert said it was his first trip to island, but he hopes to come back next year.
“It was a blast,” he said just after performing his set Saturday evening. “The sound men were awesome– great energy from the crowd.”
The band traveled to the city by way of Deception Pass and raved about the scenery.
Another popular attraction seemed to be the crowd itself.
“I like to watch the people,” said Freeland resident Linda McKee. “You see a little bit of everything.”
Mount Vernon resident John Francis echoed this sentiment. It was his first time at the three-day festival and he said he enjoyed the “people watching” as much as the music.
LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends wrapped up the festival on Sunday evening. Janie Cribbs and the T.Rust Band, a Whidbey act that blends blues, roots, folk and soul, opened for Bell.
Janie Cribbs said her Freeland-based band has been a part of all but one Oak Harbor Music Festival in the seven years it’s been around.
“It’s an asset to this community,” she said in a previous interview.
The nonprofit that puts on the free festival raises money for graduating Whidbey Island students who want to pursue a career in music.
The organization awarded $10,000 this year and its motto, according to Music Chair Larry Mason, is to inspire through music.
“I love it,” said Martino as she sat in the beer garden. It was her third time attending the music festival.
“I love to see everybody out together. It makes my heart happy … I hope it’s a tradition we keep in our community.”
All proceeds from the beer and wine gardens helped contribute to the around $150,000 spent to put on the event, according to organizers.