The Rainforest Arts Center in Forks is the place for many of the events over the next two weekends during Rainfest and the River and Ocean Days Festival. (Zorina Barker/for Peninsula Daily News)

WEST END NEIGHBOR: Rainforest Arts Center celebration in Forks

WHAT DOES AN annual celebration of the arts have to do with a beach cleanup?

For the past couple of years, Rainfest — the West End arts celebration — has shared its billing with the Rivers and Ocean Days Festival, spanning two weekends in April.

For the most part, the artistic portion commandeers the first weekend and the environmental focus occupies the second.

The art weekend is Friday through Sunday.

The River and Ocean Days weekend is Friday and Saturday, April 28 and 29.

Events are taking place at various venues in Forks and on beaches along the coast.

The combination seems to grab a large supporting cast including members of Piecemakers Quilt Club, Rainforest Council for the Arts, West Olympic Council of the Arts, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and Coastsavers, to name just a few.

Sue Shane, president of the Rainforest Council, doesn’t quibble with the unusual pairing.

“Earth Day [on Saturday] and the coast cleanup coincided with the time of Rainfest so the marriage was kind of a natural occurrence.”

Shane said the interests of willing volunteers changes over time.

While her council’s board and members are older and dependable, they lack the energy of a younger crowd that favors more vigorous environmental activities, Shane said.

The younger participants take part in water and marine groups, which have resources for education and handle the promotion, printing and advertising “for the whole shebang,” she added.

The art is still what makes the festival special for many locals.

Shane’s group cherishes “teaching children to take a chance and learn to use different materials and tools” as well as “entertaining the public while having fun,” she said.

As for Shane, she delights in the vast creativity of folks right in her own neighborhood.

The annual Fabric of the Forest quilt class will be held on its customary first Friday at the state’s Department of Natural Resources conference room building at 411 Tillicum Lane in Forks.

This is an art show and art demonstration all rolled into one.

The tangible art yields its place to dancing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the center, with local band Loose Gravel providing the tunes.

These are just a couple of art-related events.

“We look forward to two amazing weekends filled with celebration of art and the outdoors,” said Rod Fleck, Forks city attorney and planner.

He, too, recognizes the diversity in the groups working together and appreciates both the West End participants and the families and individuals who come from afar to be a part of the celebration.

Tami Pokorny is one such person.

She is employed by Jefferson County Environmental Health and coordinates the North Pacific Coast Marine Resources Committee.

This committee is just one of four such groups that uses funding from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to support projects that engage local communities in coastal and marine issues including education, outreach, science and stewardship activities.

“The tide needs to be conducive for a beach cleanup,” Pokorny said.

Both Pokorny and Shane took extra time talking about the River and Ocean Film Festival happening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Rainforest Arts Center on Saturday, April 29.

“Last year, we had over 125 people and we really packed the arts center,” Pokorny recalled.

Shane said people are still talking about last year’s films.

“With the newer digital photography, things can be captured that are almost magical,” she said.

In other planned events, the “Trashion Show” has been trashed in favor of people coming up with costumes for the parade, Pokorny said.

In past years, the parade has been focused on decorated umbrellas and been duly called the Umbrella Parade.

This year, as things are a-changing, the parade is now the Undersea and Umbrella Parade.

It is still open for public participation and will also be April 29.

Fin the Migrating Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus bodacicus giganticus) is scheduled to make an appearance Saturday as well.

This amazing beast of a fish is 25 feet long and tips the scale at over a ton.

Belonging to the North Olympic Salmon Coalition, Fin is a metal sculpture that can be walked through.

Inside is an instructional watershed ecosystem mural, while the outside is painted like a bright salmon.

Creativity is the name of the game for these two weekends this month, whether it is in figuring out how to turn an umbrella into a squid or how to lug all that garbage off the beach.

It’s safe to say there is a creative outlet for almost anyone.

Keep up with the schedule of events on the events page of the Forks Chamber of Commerce’s website at www.forkswa.com.

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Zorina Barker lives in the Sol Duc Valley with her husband, a logger, and two children she home-schools.

Submit items and ideas for the column to her at zorina barker81@gmail.com, or phone her at 360-327-3702. West End Neighbor appears in the PDN every other Tuesday.

Her next column will be May 2.