SEQUIM — “A wish upon a river” could be a storybook opening for this year’s Dungeness River Festival.
Organizers for the annual free event, which is celebrating 20 years, ask visitors at the Dungeness River Railroad Bridge Park, 2151 W. Hendrickson Road, to share their wishes for the river.
Powell Jones, executive director of the Dungeness River Audubon Center, said each booth will share its group’s wish for the river for the next 20-plus years.
“Then [community members] can formulate their own vision and go make their own wish,” Jones said.
“Hopefully, what we see is a pattern for the same thing — a healthy river to sustain for the future.”
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, more than 20 exhibitors will discuss their work and vision for the Dungeness River.
On Thursday night, the festival screened “The Memory of Fish.”
Today, community members will write their wishes on flags, Jones said. These will be placed around the park for several weeks.
As per tradition, the annual River Festival gathers various agencies and nonprofits together to share their work and how it ties into promoting and maintaining the health of the Dungeness River.
The participating agencies and nonprofits include the U.S. Forest Service, Peninsula Trails Coalition, Back Country Horsemen-Peninsula Chapter and the North Olympic Land Trust.
After switching from two full days to a one-day Friday event last year, organizers estimate about 1,500 people participated, including hundreds of school children.
This year, third- through fifth-grade students from Greywolf and Helen Haller elementary schools return today, along with students from Five Acre School, Port Townsend private schools and local homeschool students.
Jones said he feels exhibitors over the years have become better at sharing their messages and it’s become more relevant to students and the community.
“We’ve also gotten a bit better at handling 800 kids and having an impactful message with them,” he said.
Thursday’s Community Night — which included booths, live music by Jake Reichner and food from Pacific Pantry — also celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Dungeness River Management Team, a group that works on watershed issues and restoration of the Dungeness River’s health.
“They’ve had a big impact on the river and its restoration and where it’s going,” Jones said.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].