30th Juan de Fuca Festival arrives Friday

Lineup brings music, activities for adults and children

MarchFourth, the party band featuring musicians, dancers and acrobats, is set to play Saturday at the Juan de Fuca Festival in Port Angeles. (Andrew Wyatt)

MarchFourth, the party band featuring musicians, dancers and acrobats, is set to play Saturday at the Juan de Fuca Festival in Port Angeles. (Andrew Wyatt)

PORT ANGELES — The 30th anniversary Juan de Fuca Festival is a big party where everybody — of all ages and backgrounds — is included, said Kyle LeMaire, executive director of the Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts.

This Friday through Sunday, the days will be packed, he added. More than 60 acts will perform on five stages. The festival has two new partnerships, four art workshops, free yoga and some 70 artisan and food vendors in the free street fair.

“It’s quite a bit bigger this year,” LeMaire said of the fair, which will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. all three days.

Live entertainment ranges around the spectrum: classic R&B with Lee Oskar & Friends, brassy funk and rock with MarchFourth, Americana with Rose’s Pawn Shop, 1990s hits with Boy Band Review and Port Townsend’s Abakis. The music starts at 5 p.m. Friday and carries on till 10 p.m. Sunday. Venues include the Vern Burton Community Center and grounds at 308 W. Fourth St., the nearby Masonic Temple at 622 S. Lincoln St. and Naval Elks Lodge at 131 W. First St.

Admission is free for those 17 and younger, unlike previous years when kids 14 and younger got in free.

Three-day adult passes are $100 while single-day passes range from $30 for Friday only, $55 for Saturday and $50 for Sunday only. Students 21 and younger with valid ID pay half price.

For information, see jffa.org or phone the office at 360-457-5411.

This year for the first time, the Juan de Fuca Festival also has a mobile app with schedules, a map, and performer and vendor information.

MidPak is one of four MoPOP Sound Off! acts joining the Juan de Fuca Festival in Port Angeles this weekend. (MoPOP)

MidPak is one of four MoPOP Sound Off! acts joining the Juan de Fuca Festival in Port Angeles this weekend. (MoPOP)

JFFA has begun new partnerships with Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP, and with the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship.

The Port Angeles-based center and MOSS, the downtown boutique, are working with JFFA to present 18 “Juan de Fuca Debut” artisans, budding entrepreneurs who will offer their products in a new display at the street fair entrance on Fourth Street.

Nature Girl’s Archers, The Woven Wilds, Left Hand Canvas, Caffeinated Steel and Wicked Stitch Co. are among the debut artisans, who are all from Clallam County, LeMaire said.

The vendors will be spread out through the weekend, with six displaying their wares on each of the festival’s three days.

“They’re each taking their art, their passion, to that business level,” LeMaire said.

The MoPOP partnership, meanwhile, will bring four new “Sound Off! Music Showcase acts to the festival. Sound Off!, MoPOP’s mentoring launch pad, presents outstanding musicians ages 13 to 21. The artists coming to the Juan de Fuca Festival are Sadie Hale, MidPak, Wyatt Silva and the band lavenderhayez, all from the Puget Sound metropolitan region.

“We want to support and inspire the next generation of artists,” LeMaire said, “and this partnership allows us to help these young people become working performers. The festival will be the first paying gig for most of them. We can’t wait to look back in 10 or 20 years and know that we were a part of their journey.”

This festival’s whole lineup was assembled to inspire people from every generation, LeMaire said.

“With our headliners, we want to have a party,” he added, so MarchFourth, with its 15 musicians, dancers and acrobats, will close out Saturday night on the main stage. Then there’s the juxtaposition of Boy Band Review, a ’90s-style boy band on the main stage Friday evening, and Tony Furtado, the acoustic Americana singer and multi-instrumentalist, on the chamber stage next door.

Local bands include Joy in Mudville, Deadwood Revival, Black Diamond Junction, the Blue Hole Iguanas, the Port Angeles Symphony Valhalla Brass, and Kozmopolis. Abakis, which played JFFA’s Winter Benefit, will bring its own ’90s set back to the Elks ballroom on Sunday evening.

Ballet Victoria, a longtime festival act, will dance at the ballroom at noon both Saturday and Sunday; the Seattle Shakespeare Co. will perform a 90-minute matinee of “Romeo and Juliet” at the Masonic Temple at 2 p.m. Saturday.

When asked what he and his seven-piece band Lee Oskar & Friends will play during their set Sunday night, Oskar said it could be Latin, blues, R&B — “whatever I feel in the moment. It is guaranteed,” he added, “to make you feel incredible.”

Oskar promised songs from his forthcoming record and from 2022’s “Never Forget,” and possibly a classic from his days with the band War, whose hits include “Low Rider,” “The Cisco Kid,” “Summer” and “Spill the Wine.”

Stacy Jones, one of the blues artists who uses harmonicas made by Oskar’s company, is also booked at the festival. The Stacy Jones Band is scheduled to play the main stage at 4 p.m. Sunday, a warmup for Oskar and Friends’ show at 6:30 that evening.

“It’s a bit of a family affair,” drummer Rick J. Bowen said. “Our set will feature songs from our 2022 album ‘World on Fire,’ plus some select covers and fan favorites,” he added.

“Maybe if we are lucky,” Lee Oskar will sit in with us for a tune.

Oskar, 75, noted that his son Nathan is now managing Lee Oskar Enterprises, maker of harmonicas, so the elder can focus on music and painting. Oskar, who lives in Everett, is also known for his visual art, which he has displayed at venues in Sequim.

Oskar promised that his performance will include songs that “take you to a deep place, and that bring you to a happy place … the music will take you on a journey,” he said.

The Juan de Fuca Festival has been on its own journey for the past three decades, LeMaire said. Today it is making a shift toward education, new artists and multi-generational entertainment.

The outdoor community stage, LeMaire noted, features the Port Angeles High School Choir on Saturday, giving the same concert they gave at Carnegie Hall earlier this spring. That free stage, which is just outside the Vern Burton Community Center, will also showcase local bands, bellydancers and theater.

Festival workshops, meantime, include “Uncorked Canvas” paint-and-sips with Jesse Joshua Watson and Mahina Hawley, an accordion book-making class with Monica Quarto and a “paint-and-slurp” afternoon for kids with Kaylee Cammack. Signups are available at jffa.org/festival/workshops.

Thirty years in, LeMaire said, “we are the community’s arts organization.”

________

Diane Urbani de la Paz is a freelance writer who lives in Port Townsend.

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