SEQUIM — First there was the Irrigation Festival. Then the Lavender Festival.
Now, community members and Sequim city leaders plan to celebrate Sequim’s renowned weather with a new tradition — the Sequim Sunshine Festival.
Officials anticipate the inaugural edition of the festival to be from March 6-7, 2020.
“There aren’t many places in Western Washington that could consider having a sunshine festival, but Sequim can,” said Barbara Hanna, Sequim city communications and marketing director.
Sequim is known as the “blue hole” by pilots because of its great number of sunny days due to a phenomenon called the “rain shadow.”
The rain shadow is created by the Olympic Mountains, which serve as a barrier to storms from the most common direction, causing them to lose their moisture on the windward side.
That depresses rainfall in an area from Port Angeles to Chimacum, with Sequim receiving the least amount of the areas affected — about 16 inches annually — compared to 100-170 inches in the rain forest on the West End.
And that translates into many sunny days in Sequim.
Hanna told Sequim City Council members in late February that many of Sequim’s festivals and events happen during the peak season so the idea was to find something to draw in people at the end of winter.
“We want something fun and energetic that focuses on positivity and light,” she said.
“We can’t guarantee sunshine, but the tag line is to ‘make your own sun.’ ”
Hanna and a committee of about 20 people have met for a year talking about potential off-season events. Their discussions led back to one of Sequim’s best-known features, its weather, Hanna said.
Tentatively, the event will begin on the night of March 6, with either an inspirational movie or speaker, Hanna said.
Organizers look to bring live music out on the street and light up downtown, similar to efforts for Christmas.
The next day, a Saturday, might feature a fun run and organizers are exploring hosting such events as beach volleyball, a scavenger hunt and sand sculpture construction.
Hanna said as people participate they’ll earn “glow bling,” or glow sticks and lights that can be used to dress up for nighttime events.
Saturday night’s event will build up to a promenade around the 1-mile path in Carrie Blake Community Park.
“The idea is we want this to be open to everyone,” Hanna said. “You can walk, dance. We want kids and families to come out. We’re looking to figure out a bike element, too.”
Organizers also are exploring a drone light show.
The Guy Cole Event Center will serve as a hub with food and music, Hanna said.
The City Council allocated $25,000 from the Lodging Tax Fund for the event.
Hanna said that organizers’ goal is for the festival to be self-sustaining in three years.
Many plans remain to be determined and more will be determined in the coming months, she said, adding that organizers continue to look at inclusive ways to partner with community groups and businesses and restaurants.
Festival producer needed
Last week, city officials sent out a Request for Proposal to contract with a new festival producer to manage the Sequim Sunshine Festival.
The contract tentatively begins June 2019 through the end of March 2020 with the possibility of an extension pending the successful completion of the inaugural event. The festival producer may contract for up to $18,000 over the 10-month contract.
City officials said proposals will be judged on the quality and completeness of entries, festival production experience of the proposer, past performance of the proposer and a case study of a comparable project.
The deadline for proposals is 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 30. All proposals must be submitted to City Clerk, Attn: Sunshine Festival Producer RFP, 152 W. Cedar St., Sequim, WA 98382.
For more information on the Sequim Sunshine Festival, call 360-683-4139 or visit www.sequimwa.gov.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].