Though organizers say it won’t be the traditional St. Patrick’s Day parade, the Whidbey Island Irish Wildlife Society is inviting people to “cruise” downtown Oak Harbor 4 p.m. this Wednesday with decorated cars and masks to celebrate the Irish.
It is just another example of local events and festivals that organizers have had to pivot, put online or postpone, if not outright cancel, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine may have offered a glimmer of hope for a fun-filled and eventful future, but organizers of most community festivities are utilizing a “wait-and-see” approach for the planning of their events.
North and Central Whidbey
Musselfest fans were disappointed by the news that the Coupeville festival has been canceled. Organizers considered postponing the March celebration of all things mollusk until October but decided to cancel the event.
Don’t be too disappointed though — organizers will share previous years’ award-winning chowder recipes on social media.
Oak Harbor’s Holland Happening, which usually occurs in late April, has been canceled again, but there is a food truck round-up being planned in its place, said Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vicki Graham. She said that the parade and festival were canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the chamber is working on bringing in food trucks and some other festivities April 24-25. Organizers of the annual car show had also expressed interest in attending the chamber’s event, she added.
The Penn Cove Water Festival is canceled. The organizer’s website said that the event will be back in May 2022.
“We feel there is no way to hold any of our Water Festival activities safely as scheduled” because of COVID-19 restrictions and safety concerns, said festival President Nina Marie Goddeau on the event’s website.
However, Whidbey sailors still have an opportunity to get out on the water with the 30th annual ‘Round Whidbey Race happening May 15-16. Crews will race day and night to complete the 65-nautical mile race. Schooners will also be allowed to compete this year.
Runners, rejoice. The Whidbey Island Marathon is scheduled for Sept. 12 this year and will be returning to Windjammer Park in Oak Harbor.
This year, the city park will be the home to the event’s festivities and the site of the starting line for all the races except the marathon. It will also be the finishing line and host the celebration after the race with live music and a kids play area. Registration opens April 1.
The Deception Pass Marathon & Half is scheduled for April 10. Both races start at West Beach in Deception Pass State Park.
The full marathon begins at 7:30 a.m. and the half begins at 9 a.m. There are limited spots available because organizers are following public health guidelines. For more information go to www.destination trailrun.com. Registration closes April 4.
The Greenbank Farm is not going to have a Harvest Faire this year, but it might do a smaller, pop-up event like last year, said Chris Michalopoulous, the Port of Coupeville Executive Director.
Meat eaters will need to wait another year to indulge in all things pork; Pig Fest has been canceled again. Maria McGee confirmed that the Oak Harbor event, which usually happens in the second weekend of August, has been canceled due to uncertainty over whether everyone would be vaccinated; also, organizers didn’t want to burden event sponsors who may have had a difficult financial year.
“It’s just better for everyone around (to cancel), but it’s really a bummer,” McGee said.
Oak Harbor Music Festival President Cynthia Mason said that show is on for the Labor Day weekend event.
A month-long celebration of all things “Practical Magic” will take place in October, according to Vickie Chambers, the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association Executive Director.
There will be multiple screenings of the offbeat film, as well as kids’ activities, costume competitions and a doppelganger of one of the actors.
Since the start of the pandemic, Langley Mayor Tim Callison has had to hang up his standard festival attire.
“My white tuxedo is crying in the closet because I haven’t worn it in a year,” said Callison, who could be spotted wearing the outfit during Langley events of previous years.
He is not certain if Bunny Daze, a festivity dedicated to the city’s booming rabbit population, will be happening this year, but did say that he had heard the July Langley Street Dance was still “up in the air” and the Soup Box Derby had been moved to September from August. All three Langley Main Street Association events were cancelled last year.
The association’s website said 2021 events will depend on COVID health recommendations. Michaleen McGarry, the association’s executive director, said that most events have been cancelled or are in a holding pattern due to COVID for much of the year.
The Clinton Community Hall will be hosting a drive-thru “Eggstravaganza” event 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 3, according to the hall’s website.
The Easter Bunny and other costumed characters will be manning tables full of eggs, candy and other goodies for kids. Parents and children must remain in their cars.
For the second year in a row, Welcome the Whales will be making a splash online with a virtual parade, a webinar with gray whale researchers, educational videos about whales and a “spyhoppy” hour.
The virtual festival is happening April 17. The night before, there will be a Zoom art fundraiser for the Orca Network, which organizes Welcome the Whales. Cindy Hansen, the education coordinator for the nonprofit whale-sighting group, said an artist will be teaching participants how to zentangle, an art method that involves drawing patterns.
Hansen added that the organization is currently working on plans to virtually celebrate Orca Month in June.
Inge Morascini, the executive director of the Langley Chamber of Commerce, said the street market will start on May 14 and run until mid-September.
The market happens every Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The October Harvest Festival, a newer event which has taken place at the South Whidbey Community Center and the Whidbey Island Fairgrounds, is still being planned for Oct. 1-3 and includes classes, demonstrations, beer and wine tastings and food sampling.
The Whidbey Island Fair is currently scheduled for July 15-18, according to Jason Kalk, the fair board’s president.
“Everything’s up in the air, of course,” he said.
The Maxwelton Fourth of July Parade will most likely not be making a comeback in 2021.
“We’re doing the waiting game,” said Harriet Arnold, an organizer. “Plus, with the (COVID-19) variants that are going on, who knows?”
Arnold added that the idea of a virtual parade has been suggested by a neighbor, but it is not something organizers are currently pursuing.
Organizers for the Island Shakespeare Festival are waiting to make the call on whether to have live performances this summer.
“We do intend to produce something live outdoors this summer,” Artistic Director Olena Hodges said. “It may just look like a modified season.”
The focus, she added, is for the community to be able to come together to safely celebrate the arts.
“It’s hard to anticipate what summer will look like,” Hodges said. “We have to hope that it will be better than last summer.”
The pay-what-you-will outdoor theater has chosen to transition to online programming during this past year, with podcasts, videos and talkshows available.
“We’re really committed to that accessibility and making sure what we’re doing is available and accessible to as many people as possible,” Hodges said, adding that Island Shakespeare Festival will continue to produce digital content, even post-COVID.
Whidbey Island Center for the Arts has moved the Whidbey Island Film Fest to May 20-23 with a theme of “Legends.”
Deana Duncan, artistic director for WICA, said there will not be as many screenings per day as usual.
WICA will continue its Sumer Nights Series on weekends in July and August.
An all-domestic performers DjangoFest is scheduled for Sept. 22-26. Duncan said international performers may not be able to attend in-person performances this year.
An earlier version of this story said the idea of a virtual Maxwelton Fourth of July parade is currently being entertained by organizers. It is not. It has only been suggested to them.