Birch Bay to host new pickleball festival


A pickleball festival is coming to Birch Bay, giving locals the opportunity to partake in one of America’s fastest growing sports.

Pickleball is a paddle sport played with a wiffle ball – a perforated, lightweight plastic ball – on a badminton-sized court with a tennis-style net. Two or four players use solid paddles to hit the ball back and forth over the net. Because the courts are smaller than tennis courts, there isn’t as much running around, making the game popular among older adults.

The inaugural Picklers Palooza Pickleball Festival takes place on Saturday, September 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Birch Bay Activity Center, 7511 Gemini Street. The festival will feature hamburgers, hot dogs, a beer garden and plenty of pickleball on three outdoor courts and two indoor courts.

“The idea just came to generate more opportunity to play for people who are new and growing in the sport,” said Heather Johnson, one of the organizers. “It will be a full, fun day of food and drinks and pickleball.”

The festival will feature a variety of pickleball-themed activities. A highlight will be the pickleball competition, with the winners receiving commemorative paddles. Teams must register in advance in order to participate in this competition; registration can be completed online at and costs $10 per team. Each player must register individually and should email with the name of their partner.

There will also be free open play, allowing anyone to try out the game without charge. Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2, which is hosting the event along with the Bellingham Pickleball Club, will have about 25 paddles on hand for beginners to borrow.

The festival will also include a free reffing clinic led by Tami Mikkelson, who will provide a lesson in reffing the game, including basic scoring and score sheet marking. There will also be a free ratings clinic, allowing players to learn what level they are at, ranging from a 1.0 rating for beginners to a 5.0 rating for championship-level players. The festival will also feature skills clinics for players of different skill levels.

To learn more, or to register for the competition or any of the clinics, visit


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