Get ready to be blue this Saturday.
The first annual Bluesberry Festival, featuring musicians, barbecue, a beer and wine garden and many a blueberry-tasting delight, takes place in Freeland off Highway 525 at Mutiny Bay Blues blueberry farm on Cameron Road.
The family-friendly event from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 21, is a fundraiser for South Whidbey Commons/Commons Cafe and Books, a popular gathering spot in Langley that teaches culinary and barista skills to youth.
Students can earn school and/or volunteer credit at the Commons as they learn restaurant and customer service skills. Many of the trainees have gone on to work in local restaurants and businesses.
Tickets are $20 for adults over the age of 21, $10 for 11-20 year-olds and free for children under 10.
Scheduled to perform are Muse and eye, LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends and The Hot Club of Troy.
While a line-up of three bands plays the blues, they’ll be blues in many forms to sip, nip, savor and sup: blueberry pie, blueberry lemonade, fresh plump blueberries just plucked from the field, maybe even blueberry liquor and a few other offerings of very berry blue fruit.
“They’re just ready to be picked this week,” said Britt Fletcher, owner of Mutiny Bay Blues, which is known for its organically grown, plump and robust blueberries. It supplies Seattle’s chain of PCC Natural Markets, and its berries are found on the shelves and plates of local grocery stores and restaurants and inside Whidbey Pies.
The 180-acre farm is a mix of cattle, feed, honey bees and rows and rows of berry plants that provide a bright green and deep blue hue among drab fields of bundled hay.
“I think we’ll have a total crop of 125,000 pounds this season,” Fletcher said, “which is a lot since the plants are still not fully mature.”
Blueberries grow on 20 acres. They were planted in 2011 and first picked in 2014. The farm is certified organic by the Washington State Department of Agriculture and it follows guidelines known as Good Agricultural Practices.
Duke are the first variety to ripen, followed by Draper and then Liberty, Fletcher explained. The farm also grows another dozen varieties in test rows.
Berries that don’t make the cut during sorting and packing end up making happy cows.
“They love them. It’s a stampede,” Fletcher said. “You’ve never seen cows move so fast.”
The Bluesberry Festival will include the farm’s pavilion near the highway, which is usually a farm stand, and a nearby field.
Mutiny Bay Distillery, while not an official part of the festival, benefits by proximity as it’s located next to the pavilion.
“We’ll be open during the festival doing our usual tastings and tours,” said Scott Stallman, who, along with his parents Rod and Kathy Stallman, have been distilling small-batch, premium whiskey in an old horse barn for more than a year. They also make coffee liqueur and blueberry liqueur and are delving into the spirit of gin next.
The Bluesberry Festival is one of two major fundraising events planned this year to keep the nonprofit training program, cafe and book store perking.
The hope is that Bluesberry becomes an annual event, said Cathy W. Rooks, president of Commons board of directors.
“Our current budget is in the $325,000 range and we need to consistently raise about $35,000 to support the training and other programs,” she said.
Currently, there’s 21 employees at Commons Cafe, including five who began as trainees. There’s also 11 trainees and 11 volunteers, Rooks said.
Roaming Radish will be the site of the second fundraiser on Nov. 10. The catering company and gastropub in the woods of South Whidbey is setting up the beer and wine garden for the Bluesberry Festival.
Private donations are paying for most of the festival expenses so proceeds directly benefit the Commons.
- Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 21 at Mutiny Bay Blues Farm off Highway 525 on Cameron Road.
- Features three local bands and blueberry-themed food and beverages. Benefits South Whidbey Commons that will be selling barbecue, veggie options and desserts. Beer and wine for sale.
- Parking available off Bush Point Road. The event is on the route of Island Transit buses, which now operate on Saturdays.
- Tickets available at South Whidbey Commons, 124 Second Street, Langley or online: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3511706
- More information: South Whidbey Commons: www.southwhidbeycommons.org
- Mutiny Bay Blues: www.mutinybayblues.com