By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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“It's all starting to come together,” said Barbara Hanna, Sequim's communications and marketing director and developer of Sequim Lavender Weekend, which brings together the separate Lavender Festival and Lavender Farm Faire.
This was the third year the two groups of lavender farmers — the Sequim Lavender Growers Association and the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association — held separate festivals and tours for the weekend.
Paul Jendrucko of the growers association said the group's Lavender Festival downtown was well-attended and packed for the three-day soiree.
“It was strong through the festival throughout every day,” Jendrucko said.
Scott Nagel, executive director of the farmers association's Lavender Farm Faire, said the event at the city's Water Reuse Demonstration Site at Carrie Blake Park was enjoyed by many.
“It was a spectacular weekend,” Nagel said. “People were excited and coming back.”
Hanna said that while the crowds may have appeared smaller than before the farmers group split from the growers group in 2011, attendance actually was as strong as ever.
The two events spread across town, and the 13 farms that provided tours, music and food thinned the crowds in each location, she said.
“I think it's just the new normal,” Hanna said.
“We're just not going to see that same mass of people in one place that we used to.”
Nagel said: “Now, people ask how many people were here, and it's hard to figure a number because they're spread out everywhere.
“We can say we're happy and there was a lot of people here.”
Jendrucko said the two festivals and a unified marketing strategy from the city were good but not as helpful in bringing in lavender lovers as the perfect blooms the plants had for the weekend.
“They came for the lavender, and it was just about perfect this year,” Jendrucko said.
“As long as they keep doing that, everybody should be happy.”
Carmen Sepulveda, owner of Sunshine Herb & Lavender Farm on U.S. Highway 101, said there were no backups at the farm on Guiles Road east of Sequim, a problem in the past during the festival.
To stop congestion that had prompted the State Patrol to direct traffic past the farm the previous two years, Sepulveda this year devised a plan to keep cars moving.
“Traffic flowed nicely, and we never had a backup in front of our farm,” she said. “We are very pleased with the end results.”
Traffic was directed by volunteers and with maps through the farm so visitors would take a right turn into the eastbound lane of Highway 101, not a left.
Most then turned off the highway onto Diamond Point Road to turn around and head west toward Sequim.
David Garlington, Sequim's engineer, said he watched the flow Saturday and was amazed at how little congestion there was.
In Sequim, city shuttles helped move traffic to the many events around town, stopping at both festivals and at several stops downtown.
Hanna said the shuttle was well-received by visitors and had few problems.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.