Question- which summer weekend is statistically most likely to be sunny and warm? Answer- the last weekend in July. Boy, do I have plans for the weekend! The only problem is that there are so many exciting events happening, it’s hard to choose. There is no doubt whatsoever where I will be on Saturday, because the Hoquiam Farmers Market is slipping over the Great Divide, a.k.a., Myrtle Street, and joining in the Aberdeen Art Walk Celebration. Actually, our official name is Grays Harbor Farmers Market, which is wonderfully inclusive. But Hoquiam is our home territory and we don’t usually make like gypsies and take the show on the road. I plan on basking in the warm sun while listening to wonderful live music, strolling around to admire work by all my favorite artists, then fighting off car envy as I choose my favorite ride in the Midnight Cruizers RodFest display.
Thankfully, the Tokeland Woodfest is running both Saturday and Sunday. I would hate to miss this event, since Tokeland is one of my favorite destination spots. Tokeland is one of the best kept secrets of the entire Pacific Coast, I almost hate to talk about it for fear of spoiling the serenity. How fitting that Tokeland should be home to some of our finest woodworkers and celebrating the craft by inviting fellow artists to show their work. This year the Woodfest takes place at the Marina. Just drive through Tokeland until the road ends and you’ll be at the Marina. Stop by Nelsons Seafood for a fresh shrimp cocktail, or have lunch at the venerable old Tokeland Hotel. On Sunday you can feast on Cranberry Pot-roast!
Ah, but that isn’t all. You have more choices. I recommend that you begin the weekend on Friday, otherwise you might miss the Mason County Fair. County Fair season is just starting, and this is a fine way to begin. The Mason County Fairgrounds are north of Shelton on Hwy. 101 and the fair takes place July 27th, 28th, & 29th. Being a devotee of rural county fairs, I promise that this is one you should not miss! They have my highest mark possible for the best fair food I have ever eaten. I could go into raptures about the quality and choices- unbelievably scrumptious! The entertainment is amazing, superb exhibits, rockin’ music, rodeos- it’s all you could possibly hope for in a county fair. And did I mention that the chance of clouds is practically nil?
The list goes on, and I saved something very, very special for last. First, some history. Back in 1989 the Canoe Journey event was organized as a revival of the canoe culture traditions. Native American peoples from coastal Washington State and Vancouver Island have gathered each year since then, with different tribes hosting a week long traditional potlatch celebration. This year the Paddle to Squaxin canoe landing takes place in Olympia, with the Protocol headquarters being at the Squaxin Island reservation the following week. Most canoes have already begun the long journey- the Bella Bella, from British Columbia, will travel more than 1,000 miles over 23 days. As the canoes arrive at the landing site, each canoe family asks for permission to come ashore. Paddles are raised to signify ‘We come in peace’.
Ten years ago the Quinault hosted this event at Taholah, and they will be hosts again next year. We had the honor of attending and it was one of the most memorable times of my entire life. As we stood on the banks of the Quinault River, a rhythmical lone voice chanted over the waters, calling the paddlers home. One by one the canoes drifted down river to answer the call. The Tribal Elders stood in magnificent full regalia, the entire sight so cloaked in eons of history that it lifted us out of time and place. We could have been witnessing a scene from 500 years ago. As each canoe lifted their paddles in peace, permission to enter Taholah as guests was given. I wept.
On July 29th the canoes are expected to land at 1:00 in Olympia. There will be free shuttles from downtown locations to take you to the landing site, as parking is not available there. You could be a world traveler with unlimited funds and never have the luck to see such a stirring and historical happening. We are blessed to live close by and be present to bear witness to the dignity of a sovereign nation of people that have upheld the traditions of their ancestors.
Further information can be found at; http://paddletosquaxin2012.org/ and
Barbara Bennett Parsons, manager of the Grays Harbor Farmers Market & Deidra’s Deli, 1958 Riverside in Hoquiam. 538-9747
Deli phone is 538-5880, open during construction!