PORT TOWNSEND — The site for the 2019 Rhododendron Festival’s Funtastic carnival was still being discussed Monday at the Jefferson County commissioner’s meeting, less than three weeks from the event’s May 16 scheduled start date.
Downtown Port Townsend’s Memorial Field is still the preferred site for organizers and the county, but options discussed over the past few months have included the Haines Street Park & Ride lot, the Mountain View campus and HJ Carroll Park in Chimacum.
Use of Memorial Field is weather-dependent. County Administrator Philip Morley said the field is vulnerable even though there has not been much rain.
“As much as we love the carnival it’s been doing unacceptable damage to Memorial Field and it simply can’t continue,” Morley said. “So since a permanent or interim site was not secured in a timely fashion over the past year, the commissioners have authorized the carnival to be held at Memorial Field for the final time this year, weather permitting.
“While the weather was glorious leading up to this weekend, it has been wet. Even a little over a week ago, we had a truck get stuck on the west end, not on the playing field. It was a small truck compared with what Funtastic brings in.”
However, the Rhododendron Festival Association’s efforts to find an alternate location were hampered by what festival board President Brandi Hamon called “miscommunication and lack of specific direction.”
Hamon explained that a meeting with Jefferson Transit had been canceled because her group did not respond to a request for a written proposal to hold the event at the Haines Street Park & Ride.
She had asked for an extension in order to put the final piece of the proposal together, which was a requirement for fencing which the group was eventually able to procure.
The transit board did not approve the extension and the meeting was canceled.
“I’m the one who made the decision to cancel the meeting as chair, not the staff,” said Commissioner David Sullivan, who serves as chair of the Transit board.
“This is one of those situations where it is late in the game. We did make a requirement as a board [of county commissioners] to make a requirement to have a backup but didn’t necessarily name a backup.
“I think HJ Carroll Park is a good location for this ultimately, but it does have the issue that Funtastic wants to be downtown which does limit what options we really have,” Morley said.
Hamon said she didn’t follow up with the Mountain View site because there was “more financial work required and it wouldn’t have been profitable for us. The site is just something the festival could not afford to use for just one time.”
The Haines Street option wouldn’t be a financial burden to the Rhody Festival organization and Hamon said the only issue is the number of volunteers needed to help with safety concerns.
Hamon said for her, personally, HJ Carroll Park has some logistical issues.
“The concern is that we would have to use the parking lot because the fields are wetter there than here,” said Hamon. “And that would eliminate all parking. That’s a concern we have. I’m sure the State Patrol would not be happy to have parking at the [Chimacum] school. How would we get people down to the site?”
Hamon said Funtastic told her that they said they can put on a show anywhere.
“They aren’t concerned about the location, they are concerned that they can put on a show. They have looked at the three we’ve talked about and they’ve said they can put it on at any of the locations.”
“I don’t think they’d have a problem with HJ Carroll Park option,” she said.
Hamon is confident that back-up plan may not be necessary.
“The good news, if you look at the 10-day forecast, it’s supposed to be in the 70s next weekend so, that’s a good thing,” she said.
Jefferson County Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].