BRINNON — This town of 800 people at the mouth of the Dosewallips River has its full ShrimpFest back with an abundance of workers preparing to highlight Memorial Day Weekend.
Brinnon’s main community fundraiser, a 26-year-old singular celebration of decapod crustaceans, has returned with full-blown festivities after the muted get-together of 2018.
Yes, copious numbers of Hood Canal shrimp were sold, but that was it.
Vendors and other events such as belt-sander races vanished due to a downturn in volunteers and prior time commitments of organizers.
This year, Brinnon ShrimpFest is back in full force from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
It will be between Yelvik General Store and the Cove RV Park & Country Store at 251 Hjelvicks Road off U.S. Highway 101 in Brinnon.
Live music will be featured morning and afternoon both days, along with more than 50 vendors offering — in addition to shrimp — Dosey Dux ice-cream bars, crafts, homemade soaps, spices, tie-dye clothing and live music the morning and afternoon Saturday and Sunday (tinyurl.com/PDN-Shrimpfest).
The gate fee is $5 for adults. Children younger than 12 are admitted free with a paying parent.
All proceeds will be donated to community projects.
From 50 to 70 volunteers were out in force Wednesday and Thursday, setting up the live-music stage, stationing the ticket booth and pitching the ShrimpFest tent, Belinda Graham, ShrimpFest organizer, said Thursday as she took a break from hectic set-up.
“The VFW booth has been put up, the Kids’ Zone has been put up, we’re getting ready to mark the parking lot and get the fencing up,” she said.
“We had a little kerfuffle with a trailer tire. We have to go out and get a new tire for it and get the stage.”
A dozen fewer vendors were at the last full-bore ShrimpFest in 2017, said Graham, a former Riverside, Calif., assistant city manager.
“Now it’s a matter of growing it back up,” she said,
“We have a number of returning vendors, which is nice.”
Under the shrimp tent’s canopy, more than 900 containers — each brimful with 16 ounces of newly plucked, uncooked, Hood Canal shrimp — will be available for $15 a pop, she said.
Caught the last week in April, they were immediately frozen.
“We call it freshly frozen,” Graham said.
Graham also chairs the Brinnon Parks and Recreation District board of commissioners.
The district offers programs such as the upcoming Kayaking for Kids event without levying taxes by relying on volunteers and partnering with local businesses.
The district is organizing this year’s event with that same homegrown energy in concert with the Emerald Towns Alliance (ETA), so named for the sister communities of Brinnon and Quilcene.
The nonprofit, which had been sponsoring ShrimpFest since its inception in the mid-90s, was forced to step back from the effort in 2018 due to lack of volunteers other time commitments of its organizers.
Still, ETA joined forces with the district in 2018 to at least sell shrimp.
The combined efforts netted $9,000 for parks and recreation district programs and the ETA.
The ETA funds such causes as the Brinnon Food Bank, Boy Scouts and a scholarship at Quilcene High School, where Brinnon teens complete their K-12 education.
Throughout the years, ETA has poured $130,000 into local schools, said Phil Thenstedt, president of the Emerald Towns Alliance.
In 2018, ETA forwarded its shrimp-sales revenue to the district to help keep the district viable, Graham said.
This year, the district is organizing the festival with guidance from the ETA and hopes to exceed 2017’s take, Graham said.
Thenstedt said ETA approached the parks and recreation district about spearheading the event, believing it could be a successful fundraiser that would parallel the district’s existing efforts.
The district is using ETA’s stage, equipment, and ticket booths, “exploring to see what the future is beyond this year,” Thenstedt said.
“If this year is a success, it may be taken over by the Parks and Recreation Department.
“We’re hoping with parks and rec being involved, it really becomes more of a community event whereas when people move to the area, it is more accessible for them to participate.
“A lot of people don’t know who we are and what we’ve done and how to participate.
“As parks and rec, they have all the visibility.”
Having the tax district run the event “allows them to fund their activities without having to tax property owners,” he added.
Graham said district commissioners would get together after ShrimpFest to assess the results.
“We are all hoping that this is the start of something that we will continue doing for many, many years,” she said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].