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Thousands celebrate 39th Choochokam
The seaside streets of Langley brimmed with light, laughter, art and music this weekend during the 39th annual Choochokam Music and Arts Festival.
Choochokam, or a gathering of stars, appeared to live up to its name this year as thousands of attendees filled the town with a jubilant ruckus.
Art and craft vendors lined the roads selling wares ranging from glimmering accessories to vibrant paintings, Mehndi body art, handblown glass and more. Shop owners and artists chatted with customers composed of friends old and new, neighbors and visitors from Everett to the East Coast.
The scents of a savory smorgasbord of foods wafted from the edge of the festival area where restaurateurs served up a variety of delights from falafel to pulled pork, pad Thai and shaved ice.
To combat any concern that the warm weather might damper anyone’s enjoyment, South Whidbey Fire/EMS set up a spray-pole near the food vendors and nonprofit area, which doused attendees with a spritz of cool water.
In the Kids’ Zone, members of the Whidbey Children’s Theater and Northwest Language Academy entertained younger crowds with activities such as face-painting and stage performances.
From Langley Park to the coastline, attendees could hear the beat of a drum or the strumming of a bass as musicians performed on one of the three stages.
Saturday’s musical festivities began with the electro-grooves of Budapest West on the main stage at 10 a.m. and continued until 10 p.m. when festival goers disbanded — or re-congregated at the pub — following the crowd-favorite Saturday night street dance, which featured more original songs from bands 20 Riverside, Letters from Traffic and the Ben Rice Blues Band.
Traditional African percussion from Whidbey Islanders Dana Moffett and Sarungano & Friends kicked things off with marimba from the main stage Sunday, preceded by Seattle jazz group Rik Wright’s Fundamental Forces at the Useless Bay Coffee Company stage. These acts were followed by a bevy of others, like Bellingham folk band Br’er Rabbit and country rockers The Druthers, who serenaded the streets until the festival’s conclusion at 5 p.m.
Kelly Copenhaver, a Choochokam Arts Foundation volunteer and South Whidbey resident, sold souvenir posters and T-shirts from the non-profit booth located in the US Bank parking lot Sunday afternoon. According to Copenhaver, sales, like the spirits of her fellow festival-goers, were high.
“We’ve only lived here for three years, but it’s everybody’s favorite weekend,” she said.
Copenhaver added that, despite a blown-out knee, the street dance remains her favorite part of the festival.
“Jumping on concrete is probably not the best decision,” she said with a laugh.
The dancing didn’t end with the dimming of Saturday’s festival lighting, and by Sunday morning kids and adults from the Good Cheer Thrift Store to Useless Bay Coffee Company were back to tap their toes and sway their hips in time.
Robert Keene and his son came from Burlington to sell their handmade sterling silver, gold, copper and bronze jewelry. They have been coming to Choochokam off and on for 12 years, returning for the idyllic location and lively festival aura as much as for the solid customer base.
“It’s a beautiful place,” Robert Keene said.
For next year’s 40th festival, organizers intend to turn up the volume and incorporate even more musical acts. Information related to sign-up and volunteer opportunities for Choochokam 2015 can be found online at choochokamarts.org, by emailing email@example.com or by calling 360-322-4822.