Alpenfire’s Nancy Bishop has donated a private orchard tour and cider tasting to the Jefferson County Historical Society’s AHA Auction. (Jefferson County Historical Society)

Alpenfire’s Nancy Bishop has donated a private orchard tour and cider tasting to the Jefferson County Historical Society’s AHA Auction. (Jefferson County Historical Society)

AHA Auction highlights experiences

Funds raised will support Jefferson County Historical Society

PORT TOWNSEND — An intimate tour of John Steinbeck’s Western Flyer.

A small-group movie screening at the Rose Theatre.

A private exploration of the schooner Adventuress.

Those are three of the items in the AHA — art, history, adventure — Auction, a new benefit for the Jefferson County Historical Society’s education programs.

The event starts with a toast online Sunday at 5 p.m., so people can relax and check out the goods in the catalog, said society executive director Shelly Leavens. The public can sign up via JCHSmuseum.org for both the half-hour kickoff and for the auction itself, to run till noon the following Sunday, Dec. 6.

“We’ve never done anything like this before,” Leavens said, adding that, with the cancellation of the society’s First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve and closure of the Jefferson Museum of Art & Culture through next March, this is a moment to get creative.

Ginny Wilson, Tim Lee and Tuff the dog are part of the Western Flyer restoration crew at the Shipwrights Cooperative in Port Townsend. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Ginny Wilson, Tim Lee and Tuff the dog are part of the Western Flyer restoration crew at the Shipwrights Cooperative in Port Townsend. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

It’s also a time to dream of 2021.

Artists and other business owners around town have been generous, Leavens said.

The four-person tour of the Western Flyer, housed at the Shipwrights Cooperative at the Port Townsend Boat Haven, includes a copy of “Log from the Sea of Cortez,” the classic book that resulted from Steinbeck’s 1940 voyage to Mexico, plus a print of local artist Raquel Stokes’ painting, “Western Flyer,” and a $50 gift card for the nearby Blue Moose cafe.

Rocky Friedman, owner of the Rose Theatre — closed since March — gave the auction a private screening in the historic cinema, with safety protocols in place and on a date to be chosen in 2021.

Leavens and her donors shaped the AHA experiences with public health in mind: small groups, largely outdoors and no set date.

Those include a spring hike up the Big Quilcene River with naturalist and poet Tim McNulty and a tour and cider tasting at the Alpenfire orchard and production facility.

In the art category are studio and garden visits to the homes of Linda Okazaki and Max Grover, two of Port Townsend’s best-known artists. Twelve others, from ceramist Anne Hirondelle to painter Frank Samuelson, also donated works.

Minimum bids range from $40 for a Port Townsend walking tour with historian Bill Tennent to $200 for the Alpenfire package, which includes tickets to the historical society’s 2021 Makers lecture series.

Alpenfire’s Nancy Bishop will give one of those First Friday talks, discussing the cider industry’s growth over the past two decades.

The Western Flyer tour’s starting bid is $110. Restoration of the boat, whose keel was laid in 1937, has a year or two to go depending on pandemic restrictions on work crews, said Shipwrights Cooperative owner Tim Lee.

More than three years into the project, “it’s looking like a boat, not a wreck,” he said wryly. “I think it’s good for people to see what can be done.”

Leavens added that, during the pandemic, she’s observed a renewed thirst for knowledge about local culture and history.

“The community has really stepped up to help us,” she said. “People have been renewing their memberships even though the museum has been closed.

“We want to stay engaged with the community until we can gather again.”

________

Diane Urbani de la Paz, senior reporter in Jefferson County, can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected].

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