SEQUIM — Organizers of the Dungeness River Festival will do it all in one day this year.
The 18th edition of the festival will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Railroad Bridge Park, 2151 W. Hendrickson Road in Sequim, instead of playing out over two days as it has in the past.
Powell Jones, executive director of the Dungeness River Audubon Center, said about two-thirds of the annual event’s traffic comes Friday, while Saturday’s attendance always took a dip. Last year, about 2,500 people attended throughout two days.
“We’re looking at [the event’s] impact, and in our community, there are a lot of things going on every weekend,” Jones said.
“When we were at two days, we were overlapping with something else. We want to be a cohesive part of the community.”
Admission remains free, with 20-plus hands-on nature activities and exhibits such as fish printing, guided walks and more.
Some of the returning exhibitors include the North Olympic Salmon Coalition, North Olympic Land Trust, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and North Olympic Peninsula Railroaders.
This year, Jones said, the center is incorporating more recreation into the event by including such groups as the Peninsula Chapter Back Country Horsemen of Washington, which will discuss how to interact with horses on trails.
This year, organizers encourage visitors to be the ones asking questions rather than the exhibitors.
“We want people to take ownership of the watershed,” Jones said.
‘What do you do?’
“Each booth used to have separate questions for the kids, but now we’re asking everyone to say, ‘What do you do for my watershed?’
“We want to establish that connection between the people and the agencies.”
As has been tradition, students from Greywolf and Helen Haller elementary schools in third through fifth grades, along with home-schooled and private school students, will attend, and Five Acre School’s Sound Waves Marimba Band will play before and after lunch.
Jones recommends visitors without children come between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. for more one-on-one time with exhibitors. He encourages everyone, including adults, to ask what each agency/group does for the watershed.
Bob Boekelheide will lead only one “salmon walk” this year. It will be at 3 p.m. He will talk about what the fish do for the river and surrounding area.
Jones said holding the walk later in the day gives more people face time with exhibitors.
“We want people to visit every booth rather than pulling them away for a walk in the middle of the day,” he said.
“We’re trying to get them as much exposure as possible.”
All parking will be in the field prior to entering the park. Jones said visitors will be encouraged to enter through the area the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe recently purchased rather than along the road.
For more information on the festival or river center, visit www.DungenessRiver Center.org or call 360-681-4076.
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].