Oh, what a beautiful weekend: Choochokam Festival lands another success

Like many Choochokam-goers, Raja was dog tired by the end of the day Saturday, so owner Chelsea Jensen had to carry him to her car. “He’s been with other dogs and in the sun all day,” she explained. - Jim Larsen / The Record
Like many Choochokam-goers, Raja was dog tired by the end of the day Saturday, so owner Chelsea Jensen had to carry him to her car. “He’s been with other dogs and in the sun all day,” she explained.
— image credit: Jim Larsen / The Record

If organizers had designed a weekend perfect for Choochokam, it would have looked like last weekend in Langley.

Thousands of islanders and visitors flooded the village by the sea which boasted fair skies, a bright sun that looked like a foreign object after weeks of clouds, toasty temperatures, very little wind and plenty of things to see, do and buy.

A line formed early Saturday afternoon at the booth selling shaved ice in a variety of exotic flavors. “It’s excellent; over the top,” said Sue Phillips as she hurried to fill orders.

Looking down from the food booths on Anthes Street, one could see the arts tents from which artists sold their wares to curious and desirous customers. And beyond that, down on the beach at low tide, a few kids scurried around the muddy flats or waded in the waves, while one older couple stood and hugged waist deep in the frigid water, enjoying a world unto themselves.

But the real action was downtown, where a variety of bands on the main stage on First Street and at the Useless Bay Coffee Company kept musical notes flying through the air. Drumming could be heard from in front of the Whidbey Island Children’s Theater. Barbara Dunn was speechlessly teaching a circle of children how to maintain a rhythm, others kids were getting their faces painted, making art with chalk, joining a group stomp, or watching Snow White staged twice indoors.

Sherry Jennings, who co-chairs Choochokam with Tom Moore, spent most of the entire two days downtown, manning the information booth and tending to vendors’ needs. “It couldn’t have been a better weekend, we’re pretty blessed,” she said.

Choochokam sales have followed the economy the last few years, which meant they were down, but this year was different. “People came early which was a boost to the festival and sales were definitely up,” Jennings said. As for the town’s regular businesses, she heard Langley’s only pizza shop had its best day in years.

Choochokam wares are classier than those available at most street fairs because entries are juried. That can mean higher prices, but Jennings said care is taken to offer festival-goers a range of prices. “Some things I’d love to buy but I just can’t afford, but prices range all over the place,” she said. The Langley Chamber of Commerce did well with its beer garden, which is its largest fundraiser of the year as patrons enjoyed a brew outdoors under the sun.

Other than minor sunburns, there were no major injuries. Jennings herself received the only official medical treatment when a volunteer bandaged her paper cut. “I decided not to be airlifted,” she quipped.

Choochokam 2012 will go down as one of the best in recent years. “Everyone did real well, they want to come back,” Jennings said of the artists who came to town for the sunny weekend.

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