Business participation in Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival pays dividends, organizers say

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The businesses that provide tie-in promotions with the Wooden Boat Festival are more likely to reap financial rewards from its attendees, said the event’s co-directors.

“We conducted a survey of 25 local businesses last year and found that 70 percent reported an increase during the festival while 30 percent had a decrease,” Carrie Andrews said to a group of about 35 people at the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce meeting Monday at the Elks Lodge.

“Coincidentally, that was almost exactly the percentage that reported doing special window displays, special offers or sales geared toward the Wooden Boat Festival.”

But there was a direct connection to doing some kind of promotion or window display, which 70 percent of businesses did.”

The 38th annual Wooden Boat Festival is scheduled for Sept. 5-7 at Point Hudson and the nearby Northwest Maritime Center, and is expected to draw around 30,000 people.

It will offer more than 300 wooden vessels, demonstrations, races and music.

Andrews, who gave a presentation about the festival along with Barb Trailer, said that businesses reporting flat sales during the weekend over the last few years see a noticeable spike in the following days.

“This can be attributed to all the trickle down for employees,” she said.

“People made a little extra money during the weekend and had some extra money to spend on going out to eat or buying things.”

Trailer said that several of the people surveyed said they didn’t come to the festival because it was too crowded or too expensive, then offered solutions for those problems.

In order to beat the crowds, people can visit Friday afternoon or Sunday when attendance is thin, while anyone who volunteers for four hours can get a free admission, she said.

“Kids under 12 are always free, so it’s a great family event,” Trailer said.

“There is so much to do at the festival, and it’s not all about boats — it’s about families, food, music, adventures and plays.

“There are five stages going on every day, with amazing speeches about world adventures.”

This is the third year that Andrews and Trailer have managed the festival.

When one full-time director’s job was created in 2011, the two longtime friends asked to do a job-share, an offer which management, to their surprise, accepted.

Since then they have streamlined the event in small ways and added activities, such as a wine bar located on the Maritime Center’s water-facing deck.

Another small difference is with the poster design.

In previous years, the festival had a design competition and a single event poster was printed.

The drawback was that posters were torn down and taken home nearly as soon as they were put up, which lessened their effectiveness.

This year, the festival directly commissioned local artist Luke Tornatsky and is offering for sale a fine-art version without any advertising, which Andrews hopes will discourage many souvenir seekers.

This year, the festival is recruiting sponsors who want to participate in a “Best of Port Townsend” display in the Cotton Building, 607 Water St., during the event.

It is also giving away free event passes to all new homeowners and yacht owners in Jefferson County.

The money generated by the event goes back into the community and is used to present the Maritime Center’s year-round programs that are offered at little or no cost to the public.

As an offshoot of the proposed integration of maritime course material into the public school system, local school districts will be invited to the event for a “back door” tour of the festival and a behind-the-scenes look at operations.

For more information, phone 360-385-3628, ext. 106, or email festival@nwmaritime.org.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 30. 2014 6:42PM
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