By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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“This is the swan song,” said Doc Reiss, sand sculpture organizer for the Nor'wester Rotary Club, which has managed Arts in Action for 35 years.
The Arts in Action annual juried art fair, international chalk artist displays and food court — which was moved from the end of July to Sept. 5-7 this year — has provided an outlet for area artists and a community festival for 49 years, Reiss said.
“Forty-nine years is a good, long run,” he said.
However, he said, it takes more than 4,000 man-hours to organize and run the festival, and it has outgrown what the club can handle.
“The folks who were running the event needed to step aside, and no one has stepped forward to take on the investment,” said Reiss, who also is managing broker at Windermere Real Estate in Port Angeles.
The Windermere Sand Sculpture Classic national sand sculpture contest, held in conjunction with Arts in Action, is already history.
Since 2003, creations by world master sculptors on Hollywood Beach have been a popular part of Rotary's annual Arts in Action festival.
This year, there will be three sculptures created by two returning masters and two or three “community”-created sculptures as a tribute to the 10-year run, Reiss said.
Among the community teams will be a Merrill Ring team, exhibiting for a third year, and another from the Phoenix Dragon Martial Arts School, creating a sculpture for the second time.
Sue McGraw of Tacoma and Sandis Kondrats of Latvia, each past participants of the content, will create the tribute sculptures.
One sculpture will be located in the center of the vendors area on City Pier, one at the Windermere offices at 711 E. Front St. and one at the Extreme Sports Park, 2917 W. Edgewood Drive, during the sprint boat racing meet Sept. 6.
Arts in Action was started in 1965 by Clallam County Artists, which ran the art festival in downtown Port Angeles until 1979, when the group turned it over to Nor'wester Rotary, Reiss said.
The club initially operated the festival as a fundraiser for the organization.
In 1999, the festival no longer made a profit, so Rotary member Steve Zenovic, founder of Zenovic & Associates, suggested that it be presented as a community event, and the juried aspect of the arts was added, Reiss said.
The first time a sand sculpture was part of the festival was in 2000.
That first one was simply a castle set up downtown in the parking lot at the corner of North Laurel and East First streets, Reiss said.
In 2001, the second year, there were two sculptures — King Kong and Godzilla — depicted as fighting over City Hall, he said.
People's choice voting was initiated that year, with visitors asked to vote for the winner of the death battle — which was “Godzilla, if I remember correctly,” Reiss said.
In 2002, organizers decided to go big.
“Bruce Skinner [Nor'wester Rotary member and executive director of the Olympic Medical Center Foundation] thought we should have the world's largest sand sculpture,” Reiss said.
The result was a 29-foot-3½-inch-tall sand sculpture of a Douglas fir — nearly 3 stories tall — with an American flag on the parking lot at First and Laurel streets.
That was built by master sand sculptors Charlie Beaulieu, Jeff Strong, Andy Briggs and Michael Velling.
In 2003, the sand sculpture aspect of the celebration expanded into the Windermere Masters.
Five master sculptors, mostly from the U.S. and Canada, participated in the juried competition.
In 2004, the festival was moved to City Pier.
Since then, the Windermere Sand Sculpture Classic had attracted top sand sculptors from around the world.
Every aspect of the festival grew, including the food court, which took on a life of its own, Reiss said.
“As we grew, it became more involved,” he said.
Zenovic, with 15 years on the board managing the festival, and Reiss, with 13 years, told the board they are ready to step down.
“That's a good, long time,” Reiss said.
Rotary Club members this year moved the festival from its traditional July dates to September to avoid conflict with the many summertime festivals that keep the North Olympic Peninsula busy.
As the date approached, the decision was made to end it this year.
It is possible that someone may decided to bring back the festival in some form, Reiss said.
Community teams can register and get more information by phoning Zenovic & Associates at 360-417-0501.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Managing Editor/News Leah Leach contributed to this report.