Birch Bay Discovery Days this weekend
What began in the ’70s as the Dinghy Derby Race and parade, put on by Todd Gritch, Betty Godeck and the Royal Order of The Birch Bay Beach Bums, is now a weekend of festivities known as the Birch Bay Discovery Days Arts and Crafts & Family Fun Festival.
In the ’70s, Dinghy Derby Race contestants would build two- or three-man rafts out of what ever they had – Styrofoam, egg cartons, logs – and race them around a course in Birch Bay, which would then be followed by a community parade.
The transition to Birch Bay Discovery Days happened in 1979, but for the first few years it was still just a parade and dinghy derby, then in 1982 there wasn’t a dinghy derby either.
The Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce took over the organization of Discovery Days in 1984, and around the same time, Birch Bay resident Elaine Vinish thought something else needed to be included in the festival to make it more appealing, so she added the arts and crafts fair to the list of events, said Bea Ball, Birch Bay resident and member of the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce.
Today, the festival is organized to celebrate the discovery of Birch Bay by captain George Vancouver in 1792.
The Dinghy Derby Race wasn’t an organized celebration of something specific, “it was just a bunch of people getting together to have a good time,” Ball said.
It wasn’t until 1984 when the chamber took over that the festival really escalated and was built more around the discovery of Birch Bay by Captain Vancouver on his ship “Discovery,” she said.
“The chamber wanted to get people who have not come to Birch Bay before to come discover the town,” said Lisa Guthrie, director of resort development with Homestead Northwest and Discovery Day chair.
“Of course we want the community to come together and have fun, but our overriding goal for the event is to have people come see what our town has to offer.”
This year’s line-up
This year’s parade has 30 individual and business entrants and will be starting at 11 a.m. in front of the C-Shop on the corner of Alderson Road and will proceed north on Birch Bay Drive, ending in front of the Bay Center Market on Harborview.
More than 50 arts, crafts, food and informational venders will be set up in front of the Sea Links Golf Course for this year’s celebration, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 19 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 20.
Vendors will be selling everything from hand-crafted jewelry and original artwork, to garden decor and wine bottle holders, to snow cones, kettle corn, hot dogs and curly fries.
The Birch Bay Bible Community Church is also hosting a kids carnival, which will be going on from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 19 at the festival site.
For more information, call the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce at 371-5004.