By Katelyn Doggett
Show your support for animal rescues while enjoying live music and beer in the sunshine. The Birch Bay Music Festival returns for its fifth year from Friday to Sunday, August 14–16. The free, three-day music festival will provide fun for the entire family – including pets.
Tammy Pearce, co-owner of the Bay Café in Birch Bay, founded the festival in 2010 as a way to share her love and support of animals with the community. The festival quickly gained popularity and grew beyond its small location in a lot across from The C Shop in Birch Bay. This year, the festival has relocated and expanded. It will be held in an enclosed, 7.5-acre area just south of the Birch Bay Waterslides that will provide plenty of parking, Pearce said.
“We have finally grown up and become a real festival and are able to bring animal awareness and commerce to an amazing place,” Pearce said. “We can have a great time and show what beautiful Birch Bay has to offer, while still supporting important causes.”
The festival is a nonprofit event and is free to attend, but donations are gladly accepted, Pearce said. The goal of the festival is to raise money for nonprofit animal rescues and youth music programs, while spreading animal awareness and pet responsibility to the community.
“This is my passion,” Pearce said. “If we bring enough awareness, eventually we will be able to have people take responsibility for their pets and other animals, and keep them healthy, safe and happy.”
All proceeds from the festival will be distributed among four organizations: The Friends for Life Canine Scholarship Fund, a nonprofit that helps get dogs out of shelters and into permanent homes; Creatures Comfort Foster Home for Cats and Kittens, a no-kill animal shelter that aims to improve the lives of the feral cat community; the Orca Network, which raises awareness of the whales of the Pacific Northwest and helps provide them with a healthy and safe habitat; and the Cronk Endowment music program, a music education program through Meridian High School in Bellingham. Donations will be accepted at the festival, at Bay Café or online at birchbaymusicfestival.com.
Fifteen bands from across the Northwest will play over the three days. Headliners include Bellingham folk band Rabbit Wilde and rock groups Arcade Cowboys and Maximus. The bands are volunteering their time and playing for free because they support the cause, Pearce said.
The festival will feature 50 vendors, including a variety of arts and crafts, a henna tattoo station and game and activity booths. Other activities include a children’s train ride, a bouncy house and a petting zoo, provided by Alpaco Farm in Birch Bay. The Bay Café and The C Shop will provide an assortment of foods, drinks and treats, including vegan options. There will also be a beer and wine garden. On Sunday there will be a raffle to win a custom guitar made out of quilted maple by local guitar builder Bryan Cronk. Proceeds from the raffle will support the Cronk Endowment music program.
Pearce said people of all ages will have opportunities for fun. Families are welcome to bring their pets as long as they are on a leash. In previous years, people have even brought pet lizards or iguanas, she said.
Funds have already been raised through donations, an after-hours event at the Birch Bay Waterslides and an online auction through Facebook. Items up for auction include donations from community members, such as handcrafted jewelry and other homemade items, as well as gift certificates to local businesses and restaurants. To take part in the auction, join the “BBMF On-Line Auction” group on Facebook.
The festival has been organized and supported by many volunteers and local businesses, Pearce said.
“The outpouring of support is really humbling,” she said. “People continue to ask how to help because they really believe in the causes.”
People have volunteered money, time and labor, as well as land and equipment, Pearce said.