Arts and Entertainment

Choochokam draws thousands to annual event

Artist Aaron Coberly paints a portrait of Langley resident, Sharen Heath during the 38th annual Choochokam Arts Festival on Sunday. Faye Castle works in the background. - Celeste Erickson / The Record
Artist Aaron Coberly paints a portrait of Langley resident, Sharen Heath during the 38th annual Choochokam Arts Festival on Sunday. Faye Castle works in the background.
— image credit: Celeste Erickson / The Record

Choochokam arrived in full force in Langley over the weekend.

The 38th annual festival of the arts drew more than 100 vendors and artists to the community.

The event also brought about 30 entertainers to the downtown area Saturday and Sunday.

Scents of homemade potpourri, handcrafted woodworks and leather goods filled the downtown streets, which were bustling with people walking about the festival.

Each day the festival was filled with music in multiple venues and ended with street dancing near the main stage. Those with memories of South Whidbey had the opportunity to share their stories recorded for posterity. The South Whidbey Historical Society had a camera recording those recollections.

Celia Black, vice president of the Choochokam Arts Foundation, said the festival drew more than 10,000 people over the two-day period.

“Some of the vendors have said to me this is their best year here for sales,” Black said. “I am pleased with the amount of visitors this year.” Celeste Erickson / The Record | Langley resident, Sharen Heath sits for Aaron Coberly as he paints her portrait during the 38th annual Choochokam Arts Festival on Sunday.

Black said she was appreciative of the Whidbey Children’s Theater for their variety of performances and activities for children including face painting and arts and crafts.

“They did a terrific job with their performances and they have been wonderful to partner with,” she said.

Langley resident Sharen Heath attends the festival every year. She said she loves seeing the fabulous art.

“There’s a lot of great energy at this festival,” she said. “I feel a lot of happiness and joy.”

Heath collects art created by a range of local artists. During this year’s festival she sat to have her portrait painted by Aaron Coberly, an artist with the Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio.

Coberly, from Redmond, teaches workshops with the studio. His next workshop is Oct. 18.

This is Coberly’s third year painting at the festival. His portraits range start at about $100 with cost depending on the size and time required.

“Doing ‘on the spot’ portraiture is a challenge and good experience,” he said. “This helps me grow as an artist.”

Cary Jurriaans, director of the Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio, said this year’s festival was one of the best for her.

“It’s great to see Langley artists connect with each other at the festival,” she said.

Jurriaans said she and the other artists from the studio are working to promote representational art at the festival. She also wanted to inspired the many children who are at the festival

“We have great teachers and supporters,” she said.

This year is a first for the Choochokam Arts Foundation to run the festival on its own. Before breaking off into its own foundation, the group previously partnered with the Langley Chamber of Commerce to organize the two-day event.

Black said the new foundation is looking to expand its programming year-round, not just for the festival.

Celeste Erickson / The Record | Simple Minded Symphony performs their set during the 38th annual Choochokam Arts Festival on Sunday.

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