By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“For the rest of the year, Brinnon is on a pretty slow pace,” said organizer Phil Thenstedt.
“Having an event like this in the middle of nowhere brings a bit of city fun to this remote location.”
The 21st edition of the Brinnon ShrimpFest will begin at 10 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday at Yelvik General Store at 251 Hjelvicks Road and U.S. Highway 101 in Brinnon.
It will end at 6 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.
Admission is $4 per day or $6 for a two-day pass. Veterans and active military are admitted free with identification, while children 12 and younger are admitted free with a paying adult.
Parking is free.
In a good year — meaning sunny weather — the festival celebrating Hood Canal spot shrimp can attract up to 14,000 people over two days.
“Memorial Day is the busiest time of the year down here,” Thenstedt said.
“There are a lot of people camping and passing through, so we aim to give them something special to do.”
The highlight of the festival is, of course, the shrimp.
Organizers purchased 1,100 pounds of live Hood Canal spot shrimp and will package shrimp tails in containers that hold “as many tails as will fit” — about 20 or so, depending on the size of the shrimp, Thenstedt said.
Each container of frozen shrimp will go for $15.
Sell out early
Those who covet spot shrimp should get to the festival early. Shrimp will be available both days, but only until supplies are gone.
“In past years, we've sold out by early afternoon each day,” Thenstedt said.
“There's usually a line of people before we even open the gate who want to make sure they get some of the shrimp,” he added.
The Hood Canal spot shrimp season is only four days long. It ended Wednesday. And once the season is over, “there's nearly nowhere else you can get spot shrimp,” Thenstedt said.
New this year will be vendors who sell prepared spot shrimp.
“In the past, they were so hard to get that none were able to serve them,” Thenstedt said.
But this year, two vendors — out of the 70 food and crafts vendors at the festival — made a point of acquiring the spot shrimp and will sell them ready to eat.
Second only to shrimp in popularity are the belt-sander races, held Saturday only.
The races have been expanded into the afternoon for the first time.
The preliminary race is from 11 a.m. to noon, with a playoff heat from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
There is no preregistration. The races are open to anyone with a belt sander.
Many racers decorate their sanders. The fiercer they look, the better, Thenstedt said.
Contestants start their sanders, which are plugged into extension cords, at the top of a tilted 30-foot plank and let them fly.
The momentum yanks the cords out of the sockets of the sanders, and the momentum carries the machines across the finish line. The first one over the line is declared the winner.
New this year is a carnival. Among children's activities will be an airgun booth, where children as young as 4 can compete if they have their parents' permission, Thenstedt said.
A beer garden for adults also is planned.
A tradition carried over from last year will be full schedules of live music each day.
■ Greg Parke — 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday.
■ Soul Siren — Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
■ Eric Miller — 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to noon Sunday.
■ Old Sidekicks — 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; noon to 2 p.m. Sunday.
Up until 2012, the Brinnon ShrimpFest was an annual festival.
But that year, it was put on hold because organizers couldn't strike a deal with State Parks for a Discover Pass exemption for visitors parking at Dosewallips State Park.
In 2013, the festival moved 3 miles up the highway to the Yelvik General Store field.
Not only is parking free, but the aesthetics are better than at the state park, Thenstedt said.
“From the park, you couldn't see the water, but here, there's a beautiful vista of the water, and you get mountain views as well,” he said.
Proceeds from the festival fund community projects. Organizers provide two high school scholarships each year and have donated money to the school, the community center and the food bank, Thenstedt said.
For more information, phone 360-796-4456, email email@example.com or visit www.emeraldtowns.org/shrimpfest.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.