Heavy rains didn’t damper the fun at HarvestFest Saturday.
The annual event, which took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Coupeville Farmers Market, is a fundraiser for Coupeville’s Gifts from the Heart Food Bank, a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization.
“It is a quarter of our annual budget. This fundraiser is a huge deal for us,” said Mayor Molly Hughes, festival organizer and food bank board president. “It’s very important for our operations.”
Despite a steady downpour, six teams turned out donning full costume and makeup to participate in the festival relay races, the festival’s primary fundraising function.
The teams and their respective organizations were the Crop Dusters representing the Coupeville Town Council; Big Red and the Egg-cellent Chickens representing Rosehip Farm and Garden; Friends of Dorothy representing the Gifts from the Heart Food Bank; the Scarlet Runners representing Kettles Farms; the Lady Lions Plus One representing the Coupeville Lions Club; and the Captain Whidbeys representing the Coupeville High School Drama Club.
The Captain Whidbeys were sponsored by the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association and challenged with raising $2,500. The association and affiliated businesses helped them to raise the money and matched the donations the students collected. The team altogether raised over $3,000, more than $400 of which the students raised themselves.
The team also won the People’s Choice Award following the relay.
Rosehip Farm and Garden took the prize for most funds raised, with the drama club tailing behind by just $20.
Rosehip also won for fastest relay time.
Hughes expressed her gratitude for all the dedicated volunteers and ever-enthusiastic relay teams who show up year after year, rain or shine.
“I am so thankful for those teams that continue to come out in that bad weather,” she said, adding that they not only show up, but consistently come decked in some spectacular costumes.
Poor weather has been a negative factor for the festival in recent years, and while teams and volunteers are willing to brave the wet and wind, many prospective market-goers are not.
“The first six years we had beautiful weather,” Hughes said. “The last three years it couldn’t have been nastier.”
For this reason, next year’s 10th annual festival will likely be moved to an earlier date.
“I am 90 percent sure we will be changing the date next year,” Hughes said.
Despite the rain, altogether $15,644 was raised this year.
“We’re going to be 15 on Valentine’s Day and we’re only here by the generous support of our community,” Hughes said. “We really appreciate it.”