PORT TOWNSEND — For one week, everything in Jefferson County comes up rhodys.
The 79th Rhododendron Festival, an event held annually since 1936 with the exception of four years during World War II, begins Wednesday in Port Townsend and concludes Sunday with the Jim Caldwell Classic golf tournament.
In between, the build-up to Saturday’s grand parade will occur, including a smaller parade for pets and children, a hair and beard contest, bed races and the Funtastic carnival.
Separately, the Jefferson Healthcare Rhody Run XLI will be held Sunday with 12-kilometer and 6K options that start and finish at Fort Worden State Park.
Tricycle races for children ages 1-6 will kick off festivities Wednesday in front of Port Townsend City Hall, 250 Madison St.
“The bikes themselves have to be trikes or two-wheeled bikes with training wheels,” said Brandi Hamon, board president for the Rhododendron Festival Association.
“We recently allowed push bikes because that seems like a new trend where that’s how the little, little kids are learning how to ride bikes, just two wheels and no pedals.”
Registration, sponsored by the Port Townsend Sunrise Rotary Club, will begin at 5 p.m., and the races will start an hour later, Hamon said.
Registration for the pet parade, sponsored by the Port Townsend Safeway, will begin at 3:30 p.m. Thursday near the uptown Port Townsend fire station on Lawrence Street, Hamon said.
Judging will begin at 4 p.m.
“You must have a ribbon to be judged, and the only way to get a ribbon is by registering,” Hamon said.
The parade, which will start at 4:30 p.m., will run from Harrison to Tyler streets. Safeway representatives will hand out beverages and human treats at the end, Hamon said.
Weather permitting, the Funtastic carnival is scheduled to open at 4 p.m. Thursday at Jefferson County Memorial Field, 550 Washington St.
If the field is too wet for heavy equipment — and the early forecast shows rain later this week — then the carnival will be moved to HJ Carroll County Park, 9884 Rhody Drive, Chimacum.
Wristband prices are $35 for unlimited rides plus two games. They will be sold each day until 8:30 p.m. Rides are good until 10 p.m., and games are good until closing.
Individual ticket prices are 60 cents each or 34 tickets for $20, 68 tickets for $40, 120 tickets for $60 (saves 12 percent), or 250 tickets for $115 (saves 20 percent).
“We will not be offering the coupon pricing on Thursdays any longer,” Hamon said. “We will only have wristbands and ticket sales each day of the carnival.”
Operating hours will be from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday.
A couple hundred people will gather Friday afternoon for the Kiddies Parade, sponsored by the Port Townsend Kiwanis Club.
Registration will begin at 2:15 p.m. between Lawrence and Tyler streets, and judging will begin at 3 p.m.
Entries must have ribbons to be judged, Hamon said.
“We usually get a few school groups and about 50 to 100 entries, but some are very large, like preschools,” she said.
Hair and beard contest
Immediately after the Kiddies Parade on Friday will be the hair and beard contest.
Registration will take place at 5:15 p.m. on Water Street between Monroe and Madison streets, and judging will begin at 6 p.m., Hamon said.
The bed races will be held Friday at about 6:30 p.m. after the hair and beard contest.
Contestants must provide their own bed with a headboard and footboard, and a rider must weigh at least 100 pounds. Each bed must have four people to push it, Hamon said.
“We used to have several entries from many different organizations and businesses, from the schools to the fire department to local businesses,” she said. “The racers tend to bribe our royals and adult chaperones with treats and flowers, and we love that the Kinetic Kops are a huge part of the bed races.”
The grand parade will start at 1 p.m. at the uptown fire department and travel to Monroe Street before it turns onto Water Street and finishes at Quincy Street.
Check-in will begin at 8 a.m. at the Visitor Information Center, 2409 Jefferson St., and staging will be uptown.
“The highlights of the grand parade are the diverse entries that showcase the variety of people that live in Jefferson County and the organizations that help make our community what we know and love,” Hamon said. “You don’t want to miss this amazing day full of community spirit.”
The parade will be followed by a cake picnic at Pope Park.
The 25th annual Jim Caldwell Memorial Classic will be held both Saturday and Sunday at Port Townsend Golf Club, 1948 Blaine St.
The event raises money for the association to provide scholarships for royalty each year. The festival queen receives a $1,500 scholarship, and each princess receives a $1,000 scholarship, Hamon said.
“Not only do they have to fulfill their entire year as a royal, but they also need to graduate from high school,” Hamon said.
Next Sunday’s Rhody Run will be the 41st in the history of the event. Registration fees are $35 for adults through 5 p.m. Thursday, $25 for active military and seniors, and $15 for youth.
Packet pickup and day-of registration for the 12K race is from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Fort Worden Commons.
Packet pickup and day-of registration for the 6K race is from 8:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., also at Fort Worden Commons.
The Kid’s Sprint in Fort Worden is at 9:30 a.m.
The 12K race, sanctioned by PAC Northwest and USATF, will start at 11 a.m. at Fort Worden State Park, 200 Battery Way, and the 6K race will begin at 11:10 a.m.
For more on the Port Townsend Rhododendron Festival, see www.rhodyfestival.org.
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].