Tom Skerritt, star of “East of the Mountains,” will be honored during the Port Townsend Film Festival this September. A screening of the new movie is among the festival’s planned in-person events in downtown Port Townsend. (Photo courtesy of Jane Charles, “East of the Mountains”)

Tom Skerritt, star of “East of the Mountains,” will be honored during the Port Townsend Film Festival this September. A screening of the new movie is among the festival’s planned in-person events in downtown Port Townsend. (Photo courtesy of Jane Charles, “East of the Mountains”)

September festivals coming back with ‘joyful caution’

Wooden Boat, Film events to return to in-person functions

PORT TOWNSEND — September is it: the month when two big festivals come back in the flesh.

The Wooden Boat Festival, hosted by the Northwest Maritime Center Sept. 10-12, already has about 200 vessels registered, festival director Barb Trailer said Tuesday.

“The harbor will be full of boats, with vendors all around the Point Hudson marina,” she said, adding that “being outdoors, we feel really good” welcoming the boat- and water-loving public.

Tickets will go on sale Aug. 7 at, while more information can be obtained by phoning the maritime center at 360-385-3628, ext. 100.

Early-bird prices are $20 per day or $40 for all three days, while children 12 and younger will be admitted free. After Aug. 21, tickets will rise to $25 per day or $50 for the weekend.

Student and senior discounts are available, Trailer noted; the Wooden Boat Festival becomes free for all each night after 6 p.m.

“The happy hours are pretty great,” with live music at each, she said; dancing gets going around 8 p.m.

The festival’s adventure stage, all about adventure races, is expanding this year, Trailer said; so are the food court and the Kids’ Cove.

“The Lady Washington will be here to do charters,” she promised, “and we always have longboats for people to get out on the water. We’ll have our paddleboard pool,” a 30- by 40-foot straw-bale-tarps-and-rebar structure where people can try standup paddling.

Some presentations will be indoors, Trailer said, but this year’s festival will have fewer than usual.

Three bars, however, will be outdoors and bigger; the tents will be more spread out.

“Point Hudson is gorgeous,” especially in good weather, said Trailer, who added she’s praying a little harder than usual for that.

Film festival

Eleven days after Wooden Boat will come the 22nd annual Port Townsend Film Festival, with a fistful of in-person events to go with about 100 films available for streaming Sept. 23 through Oct. 3.

“We’re proceeding with joyful caution,” said executive director Janette Force, launching into a rhapsodic list of visiting filmmakers and films.

The program, schedule, film synopses, passes and tickets will all be available online in the coming weeks at; the festival office can be reached at 360-379-1333.

The festival will include free screenings on a giant screen erected on Taylor Street downtown, plus events at the American Legion Hall at Monroe and Water streets.

Single tickets will be sold in advance for $20 on the festival website; come festival week, filmgoers will be able to buy rush tickets on site while they last for $15 apiece.

“Our plan is to honor Tom Skerritt with a lifetime achievement award,” Force began; that event, along with a screening of his latest movie, “East of the Mountains,” is slated for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, at the American Legion.

Also that night, the documentary “Lily Topples the World” will light the outdoor screen looming over Taylor Street.

The movie follows 20-year-old Lily Hevesh, a world-renowned domino toppler and the only young woman in her field, as she rises as an artist.

Filmed for more than three years across numerous cities where Hevesh does her thing, it’s the true tale of a Chinese adoptee who becomes a global artistic force via more than 1 billion YouTube views.

“She’ll hopefully do some toppling” in Port Townsend, Force added, “and we hope to welcome her to a school setting, where she’ll talk about what it feels like to follow your passion.”

Prolific screenwriter Kristin “Kiwi” Smith, a Chimacum High School graduate, will step into the limelight Saturday, Sept. 25, with a 20th anniversary screening of “Legally Blonde.” It’s just one of the movies she wrote, and it will be shown on the Taylor Street screen, replete with costume and small-dog contests, Force said.

Yet another filmmaker, Bobbi Jo Hart, will appear at a to-be-announced date at the American Legion along with her 2021 documentary, “Fanny: The Right to Rock.” Hart will be among the guests welcomed Friday, Sept. 24, during the tiny but heartfelt parade, Force said.

Festival-goers will be strongly encouraged to wear masks, she said, since social distancing while standing in line isn’t practical.

“We felt planning a live event with cautionary measures in place in September was a reasonable goal,” said Force, who has announced she’ll retire after the festival.

“Nothing compares,” she added, to the sound of many people laughing, gasping or applauding together.”


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

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