Choochokam returns to Langley

"Megan Reams, 3, of Bush Point, eagerly reaches for a large ear of corn being handed down by Heather Lynn Hirt at the Corn Roasters booth during last weekend's Choochokam. The tot and her mother were heading up the street to sit on the lawn and listen to some music on the warm, sunny Langley day.Joan Soltys / staff photosLangley held its big summer party again last weekend. Choochokam was back.People strolled the downtown streets in tank tops, shorts, sunglasses and sunhats, slurping on shaved ice, eating a bratwurst or curly fries, and gravitating toward the live music, the poetry, and the bright white tents that sheltered a profusion of art objects and crafts from made by 125 accomplished artisans. Langley's annual Festival of the Arts took place under the fickle island sun that almost always, however, shines for Choochokam. The festival, and the sunshine, attracted thousands of weekend visitors.It's a great crowd, said Don Zontine, co-director of the Choochokam committee with Chris Adams. Don't ask about the parking, though.About 60 parking spots usually available for Choochokam were lost to current road construction this year. To help alleviate traffic jams caused by vehicles cruising for a space, the Star Store, The South Whidbey Record and Whidbey Tours sponsored a shuttle bus to and from the parking lots at C&MA Church and the bus barn on Camano Street. The bus dropped people off near Langley Park.The shuttle was actually very successful, Zontine said. We probably will do it again, but advertise it earlier. Once visitors got to the street fair, they were on their own in the crowds, however. And no one seemed to mind.Theresa Daverio of Seattle was at her second Choochokam, and was unconcerned about the lines at the food booths and the gentle crush of bodies.I was here last year, she said. I knew what to expect. The foods offered were a mix of standard festival fare and gourmet offerings: Brats and curly fries, teriyaki, Philly steak, the Fireball Dog and the Apple Dumpling Gang vied with Seattle Snow Hawaiian shaved ice, buffalo burgers, kettle corn, the salads at Caesar's Palace, the ever-popular gyros and mini-donuts, even pesto vegetarian and strawberry or chocolate turtle crepes.And if the standing about and walking the streets caused some muscle discomfort, massage therapists Frankie Petitclerk and Nikki Lubach of Whidbey offered 15 minute massages to loosen things up.We've given at least 10 massages just this morning, Petitclerk said.At least one other way was found to exercise those muscles: dancing to the almost continuous entertainment on the Main Stage next to the Dog House Tavern. Rachel White, 3, daughter of Dave and Julie White of Anacortes, found the African-Congolese rhythms of Wawali Bonane irresistible, while Cisco, a young Chihuahua, had one of the best seats in the house, atop the shoulders of Gary Clemens of Langley, to listen to the music of Beverly Graham and her band.As always, Choochokam's music and entertainment was eclectic and energetic. The Langley All Stars -- Tom Hoeflich, David Malony, David Licastro, Ro Purser and other Langley favorites -- earned cheers when they took the stage just before the Saturday night street dance with Swamp Mama Johnson. The Shifty Sailors roved the festival with their sea chanteys, and Barbara Dunn and Kimmer Morris sang at the Boy and Dog Park.There were also open mic and poetry events at Langley Park, where kids could climb the rocks or roll on the grass. At Langley's waterfront park, kids and adults made their own music on the Junk Chimes noisemaker. Built from pots and pans, car parts, metal tubing, and more than a hundred other metal objects, the chimes were irresistible. Mukilteo's Derek DeWolf spent about a half hour hitting every piece of the chimes with a mallet.It lets you make noises you couldn't make anywhere else, he said.As for the shopping, the artists and craftspeople of Choochokam displayed their best work: hammered bronze jewelry by David Conover, fine woodturnings by David Bradbury, Sandey Brandon's hand silk-screened garments, garden art, birdhouses, candles, pottery, woven pieces, ceramicware, prints, photography, furniture and many others. Almost everyone leaving the festival carried away a bag containing a special treasure. "

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