By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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SEQUIM –– There's a calm in the air.
Though the tens of thousands of lavender-loving visitors expected to flood the Dungeness Valley today, Saturday and Sunday for the Sequim Lavender Weekend will lengthen traffic times, lines at stores and wait times at restaurants, that shrubby, oily plant that brings them here is there to help soothe the madness.
“It's a real thing. There's not much of a mystery that these little plants actually do have a lot of benefits,” said Paul “Dr. Lavender” Jendrucko, spokesman for the Sequim Lavender Growers Association.
The alpha-pinene, limonen and linalool responsible for lavender's oily scent actually produce calming physiological effects once entered through the schnoz.
And with plants scattered throughout town, it's hard not to breathe in the sweet scent of lavender these days.
After a couple years of cold, wet springs produced substandard crops, this year's crop looks healthy and chock full of the oils that are filling the valley with that pleasing, soothing scent.
“It's been a good year. We've had some really juicy, oily plants this year,” said Vickie Oen, president of the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association and general manager of Purple Haze Lavender Farm.
Those oils are the primary attraction that brings mobs from around the world to celebrate the array of lavender varieties grown on just a few dozen acres of Dungeness Valley farm ground.
Lavender Weekend, the three-day event that includes the farmers' Lavender Farm Tour and Fair and the growers' Lavender Festival, runs today through Sunday.
The weekend features tours of the farms set in wooded meadows and grassy plains next to fields of corn or — new this year — marijuana growers, along with events, demonstrations and concerts at each farm and a pair of vendor markets in town.
Both the growers association's Sequim Lavender Festival on Fir Street and the farmers association's Lavender Arts & Crafts Farm Faire in Carrie Blake Park, 202 N. Blake Ave., will open this morning at 9 a.m.
The two festivals will offer hundreds of vendors selling a wide variety of lavender-infused products, from soaps, oils and beauty creams to ice cream, lattes and wine.
This is the 18th year that many of those who grow lavender from the loamy soil left behind by millennia of Dungeness River floods have opened up their farms to the plant's many fans.
“I think we should have a lot of happy campers this year,” said Barbara Sanford, owner of the 16-acre Blackberry Forest on Forrest Road.
“Some of our plants, particularly the Grosso, is going to be just perfect for the festival.”
In their first year, Marco and Christa Hermosillo are anticipating the madness that comes with opening their Olympic Lavender Heritage Farm to thousands of visitors.
“We're really excited to see how this goes,” Christa said. “We've done a lot of work, but there's only so much you can really prepare for, I think.”
The couple purchased the farm last year and, as experts in chemistry, have connected to the genetic properties that make their crop so desirable.
“I understand how it works,” Christa said. “It just still amazes me what this little plant can do.”
The farmers association's Lavender Farm Tour and Fair includes stops at five farms. The growers association's Sequim Lavender Festival Farm Tour has seven stops. Sunshine Herb & Lavender Farm at 274154 U.S. Highway 101 is open to the public but is not listed on either association's tour.
For more information about lavender activities, attractions and fees, visit http://tinyurl.com/lavenderweekend.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at email@example.com.