Peace Arch art festival returns for second year

Published on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 by Steve Guntli

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The International Peace Arch Art Festival is back and bigger than ever. 

The festival is returning for its second year June 20–22, after a positive response from the community and the contributing artists who exhibited in 2013. The three-day festival celebrates the creative arts in all its forms, from painting and jewelry to food and music and everything in between. Artists from across the U.S. and Canada are expected to participate.

The festival is spearheaded by a coalition of local artists and business owners, including Brian Major of Major Arts and award-winning quilter Anne Abrams, among others. This year the organizers have hired PR representatives to get the word out to a larger audience, and believe the positive word of mouth from last year’s event will drive attendance.   

“To the best of my knowledge, Whatcom County doesn’t have anything quite like this,” Abrams said. “We have galleries and studio tours, but this includes artists from outside Whatcom County as well as locals.” 

The festival will be a showcase of paintings, crafted glass, quilts, knitted clothing and mixed-media pieces from around the country. Artists from Michigan, Arizona and Idaho will be attending along with artists from Washington and B.C.

Peace Arch Park’s location allows visitors from either side of the border to attend the festival. Visitors from Canada are not required to go through border checkpoints if they park on the Canadian side though any purchases made will need to be brought through customs.  

Chef’s C.A.T.C.H. Culinaire will be offering fresh, local cuisine every day of the festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. C.A.T.C.H., an acronym for its founders, Chefs Andrew Tucker and Cory Hurrelbrink, catered the event for one day last year and were invited back to work the entire festival this year. Chef Tucker said one of the draws of returning is the chance to produce gourmet dishes that don’t normally come across as traditional fair food. 

“Cory and I both grew up in the Pacific Northwest and we love it here,” Tucker said. “I have more of a classical French training, and Cory is really good with traditional Pacific Northwest cuisine. We try to blend those influences and use only local ingredients to give our food an extra flair.”

The chefs have prepared a customized seven-item menu for this year’s festival, including a Caprese salad, an Alaskan snow crab bisque, braised beef short ribs and roasted pork belly sandwiches. 

The wine and beer garden is open from noon to 5 p.m. each day of the festival. Nooksack Valley’s Samson Estates winery is providing the wine, and Bellingham’s Kulshan Brewery will have a selection of popular beers on tap. 

Blaine High School students will be manning booths and raising money for school projects. The Blaine High School girl’s volleyball team will return to volunteer, and will have their own booth selling soda and chips to raise money for their team. Participants in Blaine High School’s AVID program, which helps students qualify for college through community activities, are also expected to volunteer.

Music will be a prominent feature of the festival, with artists from multiple genres (blues, world beat and jazz) due to appear each day. On Saturday, June 21, students from the Blaine Taiji Academy will perform traditional Chinese qigong techniques, including sword and fan demonstrations.  

Festival coordinators hope to make the International Peace Arch Art Festival a fixture in the years to come. 

“We want people to stop and visit Blaine rather than just drive through,” Abrams said. “We’re hoping to make this a go-to event that people will want to visit every year.”  

For those who can’t wait for June 20 to see some gorgeous art in Peace Arch Park, the Internationl Sculpture Exhibition is currently on display. The exhibit began its 17th year on May 1, and it will remain on display until October 1.

More than a dozen works of art have been installed throughout the park grounds, with artists from everywhere from Beijing, China to Blaine. Local artists are a big factor in this year’s exhibit, with one Blaine artist, Todd Gregory Hollarn, showcasing three unique steel sculptures.  

Both the Peace Arch International Art Festival and the International Sculpture Exhibition are free to attend. Those who wish to see the scultpure exhibition this weekend, June 7 and 8, can enjoy free parking without the need for a Discover Pass, a bonus courtesy of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Free Fishing Weekend. 

Free parking is available in the northern half of the park’s parking lot and on 2nd and C streets. Those with a Washington State Discover Pass can park anywhere in the park. Canadian visitors can park on the northern side of the border directly off of southbound Highway 99. For more information, visit peacearchart.org.