Century-old event returns to park

On July 23, Deception Pass State Park will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

On a summer weekend 100 years ago, thousands of residents of Whidbey and Fidalgo islands could be found gathered at Cornet Bay eating, chatting, dancing and playing games.

For the first time in decades, this weekend will look a lot like that.

On July 23, Deception Pass State Park will bring back the inter-island community picnic in celebration of the park’s 100th anniversary. According to Corinne Boroff, an interpretive naturalist at the park, the picnic that became an annual event drawing folks from as far away as Bellingham and Mount Vernon began before the park’s official inauguration.

The first picnic took place on July 28, 1919 at Cornet Bay. The yearly picnic would become a social, political and cultural hub, with local and state politicians joining the throng to mingle with constituents. The picnic was also used to dedicate the park and, over a decade later, the Deception Pass Bridge.

With time, the picnic grew too large for Cornet Bay, and Cranberry Lake became the event’s official locale until it ended for unknown reasons.

This year’s event will include food vendors, live music, a beer garden and a vintage RV and car show. Deception Pass Area Manager Jason Armstrong said there will be buses on the Whidbey side of the pass to help shepherd the picnic’s many anticipated visitors around the park.

The shuttles have stops at the Cornet Bay parking lot, the North Beach parking lot, various points along North Beach Road, the Lake Store, the intersection of Ampitheatre Road and Cranberry Lake Road, and the East Cranberry Lake parking lot. Service through the loop will run from 1:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Armstrong said there will be golf carts available to help transport folks who may have trouble walking uphill to the RV show.