By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT ANGELES — The final Arts in Action festival begins today.
The three-day celebration at and around City Pier features 18 selected art vendors at the juried art fair, five sand sculptures, cool cars and a food court — an elegant swan song as 49 years of the festival comes to an end after this weekend.
The street festival will be open from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. today, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Entry is free.
Steve Zenovic, with 15 years on the board managing the festival for the Nor'wester Rotary Club, and Doc Reiss, who has organized the sand sculpture contest for 13 years, announced in August they would step down after this year's scaled-down event.
No one has stepped forward to take it on, said Lisa Cornelson, who assists Zenovic — who was unavailable for comment — with festival management.
Sand sculpture finale
The Windermere Sand Sculpture Classic, a sand sculpture contest on Hollywood Beach that attracted sculptors from across the country since 2003, as well as local community-level entries, was held in conjunction with Arts in Action.
This year, there will be no contest, but Sue McGraw of Tacoma and Sandis Kondrats of Latvia, each past participants of the contest, will create sculptures as a tribute to 10 years of pounding sand in Port Angeles.
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 Saturday.
Community teams will create their sand sculptures on Hollywood Beach for the last time.
A team from Merrill & Ring will participate for the third year, and the Phoenix Dragon Martial Arts School will try its hand at a sculpture for the second time.
Nor'wester Rotary Club members, who have managed the festival for 35 years, moved it this year from its traditional end-of-July dates to September to avoid conflict with the many summertime festivals that keep the North Olympic Peninsula busy.
However, the move also reduced the number of vendors available because of the start of the school year, and a number of vendors retired and are no longer in business, Cornelson said.
In past years, the festival has included nearly 50 vendors.
A temporary reduction in the number of vendors had been anticipated as part of the change of dates, she said.
While the number of vendors may have been reduced, more hot cars than in the past will be displayed at City Pier.
On Saturday, “Ponies on the Pier” will celebrate the Ford Mustang, which marked 50 years of production this year.
The North Olympic Mustang Club expects to exhibit some 20 to 25 Mustangs, said Don Conner of Nor'wester Rotary.
The car owners will gather at about 11 a.m., and cars will be on display until at least 3 p.m., he said.
A People's Choice award will be presented at the end of the day, he added.
On Sunday, the Olympic Peninsula region of the Porsche Club of America will take over City Pier with some 30 to 35 Porsche cars displayed from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Porsches on the Pier” has taken place during the Arts in Action Festival for the past eight years, said Maryann Elwell, who organized the exhibit for the club.
“It will be sad if it doesn't continue,” she said of Arts in Action.
“People seem to get a kick out of going down to the pier to see the cars, and we got a kick out of seeing the sand sculptures.”
Elwell said she hopes someone takes over the festival so the partnership between the Porsche club and the festival can continue.
The club will donate the proceeds from its “Porsches on the Pier” event to the Captain Joseph House Foundation in Port Angeles for the second year.
Last year, $1,190 was donated. The money was earned from event participation fees and additional private donations during the event.
All donations made to the foundation are tax-deductible.
Porsche owners who are not club members are invited to bring their Porsches down to the pier to join the show.
Registration for car owners is $25.
For more information about the car show, phone Elwell at 253-853-4003.
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 as a fundraiser event.
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.
Sand sculptures were introduced in 2000, when sculptors were hired to build a traditional sand castle downtown in the parking lot at the corner of North Laurel and East First streets.
In 2001, King Kong and Godzilla were depicted as fighting over City Hall in a sand sculpture on Laurel Street.
It was the first year of the people's choice voting, with visitors asked to vote for the winner of the death battle. Godzilla won, Reiss recalled.
In 2002, a 29-foot, 3½-inch-tall Douglas fir tree with an American flag was created on the parking lot at First and Laurel streets.
In 2003, the sand sculpture concept became the Windermere Masters juried competition, featuring five master sculptors.
In 2004, the festival was moved to City Pier and became the Windermere Sand Sculpture Classic, which attracted top sand sculptors from around the world.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.