Head to Discovery Days this weekend
Arr Maties, you’ll be spillin’ your guts with laughter ‘fore you’ve even seen half the fun and you be forced to walk the plank or curse that burstin’ belly after feastin’ all day on savory grub as you experience the 25th Annual Birch Bay Discovery Days Arts, Crafts, Family Fun Festival this weekend along the scenic strip of Birch Bay Drive. Aye, and you might want to pillage the closet for a costume so you and the kids can enter one of two parades on Saturday.
Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce won’t be honoring pirates or scavengers of the high seas during this weekend’s festivities, however. It will be honoring U.S. and Canadian soldiers who went overseas. Yes, all World War II veterans of each military branch are invited to join the festival to be honored for their distinguished service to the country, according to chamber vice president Mike Harward.
“We want all the WWII veterans (in Whatcom County, Canada or any of the states) to show up wearing their military hats distinguishing the branch they served under and be recognized,” Harward said, adding that this year’s festival dedication coincides with the WWII Memorial ceremony in Washington, D.C..
“There aren’t many WWII vets left,” he continued. “We want to honor them.”
Harward said much of the chamber’s efforts these days stems from the belief that Birch Bay is more than a community, “it’s a family community for all in Whatcom County and this year we want to honor its citizens and its veterans,” he said.
WWII veteran’s will lead the grand parade at noon (with many insisting they want to walk the entire route) from Bay Center Market with the honorary Grand Marshal, Harvey Means of Bellingham, a WWII Army soldier who served in both the European and Pacific theaters, leading the way. Local Post 86 American Legion, the Canadian Color Guard, and firefighters of Birch Bay Fire district 13 will follow with a cascade of colors, flags, cars and trucks behind a procession of The Bellingham Bag Pipers. The veterans will be honored after the parade in a ceremony at the staging area where each veteran will receive a certificate from the commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The ceremony will begin with the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Oh, Canada” by Blaine High School senior Mary Marshall. (WWII Veterans who would like to participate in the ceremony can call Chamber vice president Mike Harward at 360/303-9272.)
The grand parade (with prizes for best float, car, tractor, band, dressed animal, and pirate) will be preceded by a children’s parade beginning at 11. Kids and adults alike can enjoy hours of fun (10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday) checking out the 70-plus venders, food booths, arts and crafts, game booths for kids, the dunk tank, and novelty shops, including a hair specialist and various informational outlets. In addition to The Bellingham Pipe Band, students and faculty participating in the Pacific Arts Association Blaine Jazz Festival this week will perform from 3 to 6 p.m. at the staging area located between Trendwest and the Dry Dock Restaurant. Seattle Sonics marketing team representatives are scheduled to sponsor a booth on Sunday to offer ticket information and free giveaways.
“I just hope it doesn’t rain … that’s my only concern,” said chamber event coordinator Ruth Lauman, explaining that this year’s festival was a collaborative effort by committee. “The excitement and energy of Mike (Harward) and the committee is contagious … like working with Donald Trump … you can’t help but say, ‘I can do better or more,'” she said. “It’s going to be exciting seeing the veterans and the people here happy and having fun.”
The Discovery Days festival is Birch Bay’s major fund raiser of the year, serving as the chamber’s primary budgeting revenue, though the chamber is busy adding more events and activities throughout the year, including a professional Sand Sculpting contest August 28 and a Visitor’s Information Center which is coming soon.
“We’re definitely proactive for family and for bringing people into the community to shop at our stores and to eat at our restaurants,” Harward said. “After our 25th year we’ve discovered that it is a family community, not just a tourist attraction, but a community for those who live here and around here,” he said.
Yes, all roads lead to family fun this weekend at Birch Bay. Discover it for yourself.