PORT ANGELES — It wasn’t just the food trucks offering smoothies, corn dogs and funnel cakes or the vendors selling handmade soap, pottery and artisan balsamic vinegar that brought people out to the 30th Juan de Fuca Festival.
It wasn’t only the lineup of live performances that ran from 11:30 in the morning to 10 at night.
For many it was the opportunity to once again attend a popular community event in person after two years of the restrictions of COVID-19 safety measures.
The festival, which ended its three-day run Sunday, returned to a full program of live music, a street fair and free community events for the first time since 2019 after being canceled in 2020 and presented in hybrid format in 2021 — occurrences brought about by COVID-19 restrictions.
“I’m so glad it’s back, I’m so glad I’m back,” Midge Vogan of Port Angeles said Saturday.
“I’m here to meet with friends, meet new friends, listen to music. Just anything.”
Vogan, who said she was a big supporter of the Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts, which organizes the festival, brought along her friend Chris Abbe, also of Port Angeles, who was attending the event for the first time.
“For me, I enjoy music, I enjoy the arts, and just being around people again,” Abbe said.
The event was an entirely new experience for Ian Gross, almost 2, who had just finished his first swim lesson in Sequim and was heading back home to Beaver with his parents, Tyler and Heather Gross, who decided to stop and check out the festival.
“It’s nice for him to experience all these people, all the little kids and expose him to the arts,” Heather said. “And it’s an opportunity for us to do something with him.”
“For us adults, it gets us out into the world again after all that’s happened,” Tyler said.
Karen and John Tyson of Sequim were hoping to expose their 9-month-old, Babs, to new sights, sounds and smells at the festival.
Babs, a yellow Labrador in training to become a guide dog for the blind, already appeared to have mastered the fundamentals of obedience and good behavior by sitting patiently and ignoring a treat that had dropped on the ground.
The Tysons, who moved to Sequim in 2019, had never attended the Juan de Fuca Festival before, so it was a chance for them to both work with Babs, who is the first guide dog they have ever trained, and do some exploring.
“This is a great opportunity for getting her around distractions and groups of people,” John said of the situations she would need to manage as a guide dog.
“I like to look at the handmade things and listen to the music,” Karen said. “We like to be part of the community and this is part of it.”
Next up for the Juan de Fuca Foundation is its series of free concerts at the Port Angeles City Pier, 315 N. Lincoln St., held Wednesdays from June 29 to Aug. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m.
For questions or more information, call 360-457-5411.