SEQUIM — A river of life is cause for celebration this weekend — in the woods, on a restored railroad bridge and on the pebbled banks of the Dungeness.
This river, with its 7,300-foot descent from the Olympic Mountains, its four species of salmon and myriad of other animals, feeds the Dungeness River Festival — a convergence of forest walks and talks, live music, local food, dancing, drumming and storytelling.
The events run today through Sunday.
Admission is free to the festival, which emanates from the Dungeness River Audubon Center in Railroad Bridge Park at 2151 W. Hendrickson Road from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
Food and drink are available and cover the gamut from salmon burgers to fry bread to Nash’s Organic Produce.
This party happens in September, River Center educator Powell Jones said, because this is when Railroad Bridge Park becomes a salmon thoroughfare.
Thousands of salmon
The fish “are really visible this year. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen thousands pass through the park. You can just watch them from the bridge,” Jones added.
Those creatures, primarily pink salmon, “are at the top of the list,” said Julie Jackson, a festival organizer.
But land activities are about as plentiful today and Saturday.
Fish printing is one of 25 interactive attractions planned through both days, so Jackson urges festival-goers to bring white T-shirts ready for images.
The Arthur D. Feiro Marine Life Center of Port Angeles is sending people to run the fish-printing station, and “they use rubber molds, not real fish,” added Jones, since “some people get grossed out by real fish.”
A new activity is called the Animal Olympics, an exercise circuit set up around the park.
In these Olympics, various signs tell pedestrians to do things like “hop like a frog” or “run like an elk,” which is quite a challenge since the elk is North America’s second-fastest animal after the pronghorn antelope.
And the 10-station Animal Olympics aren’t just for kids, Jones said.
“I’ll be doing them. Why not?” he asked.
Watching Bob Boekelheide, the longtime director of the river center, demonstrate the frog exercise is “classic,” Jackson added.
Boekelheide, 59, who has served as the leader of the center since it first opened in late 2001, plans to retire at the end of the year, though he expects to make frequent returns as an educator and bird-walk guide.
The Dungeness River Festival schedule beckons with many other entertainments — with education mixed in.
■ 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Bird Identification Contest at the river center.
■ 10:30 a.m. — Music by Juana Marimba on the River Stage.
■ 11 a.m. — River Walk with Boekelheide, starting from the river center.
■ Noon — Nature photography walk with Don Wallace, starting at the river center bird feeders.
■ 12:45 p.m. — “Cougars and Bears: Be Aware!” talk by Jones on the River Stage.
■ 2 p.m. — Legends of the Jamestown S’Klallam people with storyteller Elaine Grinnell inside the river center.
■ 2:30 p.m. — Native-plant walk with Joe Holtrop starting at the river center bird feeders.
■ 10 a.m. — Traditional welcome ceremony with the Jamestown S’Klallam drummers and singers.
■ 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Bird identification contest around the river center.
■ 10:45 a.m. — Music on the River Stage with one-man band Mike Kamphaus.
■ 11 a.m. — Nature photography walk with Don Wallace starting from river center bird feeders.
■ 11:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. — “Cougars and Bears: Be Aware!” talk by Jones on the River Stage. (Repeats at 1:45 p.m.)
■ 12:30 p.m. — More music from Kamphaus.
■ 1 p.m. — Native-plant walk with Holtrop, starting from the river center bird feeders.
■ 1:30 p.m. — Mountain blues and country music by Cort and Kia Armstrong.
■ 2 p.m. — “How They Built the Bridge” talk with engineer Ken Wiersema, starting from the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society table.
■ 2:15 p.m. — Tall tales and tunes with Mitch Luckett on the River Stage.
■ 3 p.m. — River walk with Boekelheide.
Also, both Saturday and Sunday, the Olympic Driftwood Sculptors’ art show will fill the river center from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
To find out more about the Dungeness River Festival and other river center activities through the year, visit www.DungenessRiverCenter.org or phone 360-681-4076.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at email@example.com.