PORT TOWNSEND — The THING festival has sold out its first time out, organizers said Thursday afternoon.
The event, with more than 50 acts, four stages, a contra dance, guided hikes, “Dance Church” and on-stage podcasting, will bring thousands of people to Fort Worden State Park from noon until midnight Saturday and Sunday.
THING — which has no “the” in its name — is a creation of the Seattle Theater Group. It’s already a success, having sold its two-day, one-day and Admirals Society passes, which ranged in price from $99.50 to $525.
Children 13 and under get in free.
Megan Claflin, spokeswoman for Fort Worden said that 5,000 are expected per day.
“Seattle Theater Group is a well-oiled machine. Every time I turn around there’s some new structure built,” she said late Thursday.
Fort Worden will stay open to the public all weekend, so people can walk around the festival, visit food trucks and information booths, hike the trails and visit the beaches.
Like other festivals, THING has big names such as De La Soul, Jeff Tweedy, Natasha Lyonne, Calexico and Iron & Wine.
Then there’s a set of Port Townsend things: woodworking demonstrations, juggling by members of Nanda and the Flying Karamazov Brothers, a Jarrod Bramson tribute Saturday evening and a Sunday night live reading of “An Officer and a Gentleman,” the movie filmed here back in the late 20th century.
That’s just a cross-section. THING shows and activities will go on inside the fenced areas at McCurdy Pavilion, Littlefield Green, the Parade Grounds, the JFK Building and the Wheeler Theater.
The Jefferson County Fairgrounds, a half-mile walk away at 4907 Landes St., has the closest event parking — which costs $30, cash only if space is available — while a free THING shuttle will transport festival-goers from other locations around Port Townsend.
Those include the free Haines Place Park and Ride, 440 12th St.; Blue Heron Middle School, 3939 San Juan Ave., the Peace Lot at 101 Discovery Road, and the Old Gas Station, 2767 San Juan Ave., which cost $20 each, cash only.
More about the shuttle route and all things THING is found at https://thingnw.org/.
Washington State Ferries said Thursday in its weekly update that the thousands expected to be traveling to the festival could make some routes especially busy, especially Edmonds-Kingston and Port Townsend-Coupeville.
THING is the brainchild of Adam Zacks, founder of the Sasquatch! festival at the Gorge Amphitheater. He shut that event down after 17 years and proceeded to bring THING to Port Townsend.
The Seattle Theater Group programmer began announcing the lineup of acts back in April, listing bands such as the Mexican group Cafe Tacvba, the Violent Femmes, Kurt Vile & the Violators, Japanese Breakfast, Tank and the Bangas, Giants in the Trees, the Black Tones and Sudan Archives.
Other performers range from actor-storyteller Stephen Tobolowsky and mentalist Scott Silven to writer Lindy West and John Reilly, actor turned folksinger.
“Pedro’s Dance Party” with DJ Efren Ramirez will start at 10:15 p.m. Saturday; the contra dance with the Canote Brothers and their band will get going at 10:15 p.m. Sunday. Dance Church, a come-as-you-are celebration of movement, will happen from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. both days.
The festival’s name is inspired by the medieval term “ting,” an assembly of “free people to reduce feuds and avoid social disorder,” according to the event website.
THING-goers should “pack an open mind and positive attitude,” the site continues, “for a weekend of eclectic programming in an epic natural setting.”
Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.