PORT ANGELES — The Summertide Solstice Art Festival featuring music, poetry readings, a scavenger hunt, art-making stations, local food and drink and a gallery exhibition returned to the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, which organizes the annual family-friendly outdoor event to welcome the summer, debut new works of art and celebrate local poets and artists.
The meadow in Webster’s Woods Sculpture Park was the hub of the festival on Saturday, when adults, children, families — and their dogs — could hang out, listen to live music on the stage and try out activities like creating enormous soap bubbles using a giant wand made out of sticks and string or contributing to a community art project by weaving ferns, greens and twigs in and out of twine laced onto a tall wood frame.
Danielle Keith of Port Angeles created a solstice crown for her 6-year-old daughter, Sophie, at a tent at the edge of the meadow where tubs of daisies, carnations, salal, sunflowers and sword ferns waited to be transformed into colorful floral headdresses.
Sophie chose the flowers while her mother wrapped them onto a headband using green floral tape.
“This is the second time we’ve come, and I didn’t want to miss it. They do such a good job,” Keith said. “I saw the art in the gallery and was so inspired. We homeschool and I got a bunch of great ideas.”
The Blooming Artists exhibition in the Esther Webster Galley featured the work of first- and second-graders at Dry Creek, Hamilton and Jefferson elementary schools and highlighted the center’s partnership with the Port Angeles School District in a program that integrated science and art.
Local artists used their skills in sculpture, painting and wool crafts to teach students about the natural world by creating habitat tableaus and fashioning snails, insects and invertebrates, honeybees and plants and ecosystems out of mixed media, watercolors, felt and polymer clay.
In the courtyard outside the gallery, Jaden Dokken, Clallam County’s first poet laureate, was among the more than 20 local poets who read their work and met with visitors.
This year there were also 20 new works in Poetry in the Park, a collaboration with Olympic Peninsula Authors group, and seven new sculptures in “Under the Canopy” in Webster’s Woods. Both the sculpture and poems will be on display until next year’s festival.
Near the entrance to Webster’s Woods at the Cabled Fiber & Yarn tent, 5-year-old Mako Wilson squished and rubbed soapy water into a 5-by-5-inch square of ivory-colored wool batting he had decorated with strips of yellow, red and green Merino wool to create a mug rug.
His mother, Mallory Watson, said she hadn’t heard about the festival until she saw it mentioned on Instagram last week. So, the Port Angeles family decided to check it out.
“He loves to create things, but he usually won’t do it out of the house,” said Watson of Mako, who was completely engrossed in his task. “I thought this would be a lot more complicated, but it’s much simpler than you would think.”
Christina Eppers of Sequim said she likes to do crafts, but as a registered nurse at Olympic Medical Center, she rarely has the time.
Eppers stopped at a printmaking station where she was rolling out acrylic paint onto a hexagon-shaped piece of wood and applying iridescent plastic wings to a bee she had printed on it.
“I just got off work and I really wanted to come,” said Eppers, who wore a solstice crown she had made. “We moved here 2 1/2 years ago and this place is just magical.”
She wasn’t finished creating, however.
“I was going to do some felting next,” Eppers said.