By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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■ Noon — Downtown walking tour meeting at 540 Water St.; tickets $10 for adults, $5 for children.
For more information, visit www.victorianfestival.org.
Peninsula Daily News
PORT TOWNSEND — Organizers of this weekend's Victorian Heritage Festival seek to maintain the white-gloved demeanor of years past while adding an element of grittiness that provides a more historically accurate representation of the age.
“The doilies and the pretty tea service is still part of the story, but Port Townsend had a rough-and-tumble aspect in Victorian days,” said Nathan Barnett, who, with his wife, Cindy Madsen, is organizing the three-day festival that begins today under the auspices of Olympic Peninsula Steam.
“This year, we are doing a pub crawl on Friday night which is not at all stuffy,” he added.
Tonight's Victorian Pub Crawl will feature saloons, “shanghai tunnels” and fine vintage cocktails through “a staggering selection of Port Townsend's (in)famous watering holes.”
The evening will begin with a chantey sing at 7 p.m. in the Hastings Building on the corner of Water and Taylor streets, followed by a self-guided tour of four local drinking establishments: The Belmont, Alchemy Bistro, Silverwater Cafe and the Cellar Door.
Tickets for the entire festival are $15 and include access to presentations, demonstrations, lectures and the exhibition hall.
Admission to the Victorian Ball on Saturday night is $15, and the suggested donation for the contra dance, also Saturday night, is $5, with all tickets available online or at the will-call window at the American Legion Hall.
“Insider” tours of downtown and uptown buildings Sunday are sold out, while tickets for the standard tours — uptown today and Saturday, downtown Saturday and Sunday — are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 3 to 12 and free to members of the Jefferson County Historical Society.
All of the Victorian Teas planned Saturday and Sunday are sold out.
This is the second year Barnett and Madsen have managed the 17-year-old event, aiming at attracting a younger group by having more diverse offerings.
Barnett characterized the 2013 edition as a qualified success.
This year will be better because more people have signed on, he said.
“Last year, it felt like Cindy and I were doing it all ourselves,” Barnett said.
“This year, we have a lot more volunteers and partners, like the Main Street program, that are taking a bigger role in putting on the festival.”
While this is intended mostly as a fun event, Barnett hopes to “sneak in a little bit of history” so participants learn something along the way.
This year's festival has a military theme, with an examination of the local forts and the role of the armed forces in the region.
Several military-oriented activities are planned Saturday.
They include a parade of horses in military drill, presentations on the military influence on women's fashions, the forts of Port Townsend and naval life in the Civil War, including the music of the era, as well as a classical fencing demonstration, a military cutlass class and a demonstration of a replica of an 1862 black powder Gatling gun.
On Saturday night, the Victorian Ball, considered to be the festival's signature event, will provide an opportunity for all to don their elegant Victorian attire and dance to live music by Broken Dreams.
Participants can show off their costuming, dance quadrilles, polkas and even a waltz — which at the time was designated as scandalous — from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the American Legion Hall.
Food and drinks
Slices of cakes, tortes and other desserts created by Port Townsend bakers will be available for sale. Nonalcoholic beverages will be included in the admission price.
The first two hours of the event will feature waltz music before segueing into the favored activity for the “simple folk,” contra dancing, with callers Judy Rudolf for the Ball and Jeanie Murphy.
Steamboats from the Northwest Steam Society will be at the Point Hudson Marina on Saturday and Sunday.
A show of Victorian fashions takes place at 4 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, 1111 Franklin St., with donations supporting the Jefferson County Historical Society Scholarship Fund.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or email@example.com.