Arts and Entertainment

Kustom Kulture Festival May 21 in Silverdale | Kitsap Week

Some people revel in the past through Renaissance Fairs. Others prefer Civil War reenactments. But if you prefer hot rods, vintage fashions and the sound of a hepcat slapping a stand-up bass, the Kustom Kulture Festival is your place.   - RJB Photo
Some people revel in the past through Renaissance Fairs. Others prefer Civil War reenactments. But if you prefer hot rods, vintage fashions and the sound of a hepcat slapping a stand-up bass, the Kustom Kulture Festival is your place.
— image credit: RJB Photo

Some people revel in the past through Renaissance Fairs. Others prefer Civil War reenactments. But if you prefer hot rods, vintage fashions and the sound of a hepcat slapping a stand-up bass, the Kustom Kulture Festival is your place.

In the past two years, the Kustom Kulture Festival has doubled in attendance as word has spread about the festival. Organizer Chuck Mitchell estimates attendance this year will top 3,000. People from across the state and as far as California are expected to attend the May 21 event at the Silverdale Beach Hotel.

The Kustom Kulture Festival is more than just a hot-rod car show. “We have a lot of car clubs who attend with beautiful cars,” Mitchell said.  “But the owners really like our event because unlike other [car shows] where they park and pull out a lawn chair and sit all day, there is more to do.”

Besides viewing pre-1972 autos, the festival features a pinup girl pageant and bands performing rockabilly and psychobilly music. Rockabilly originated in the 1950s as one of the earliest forms of rock and roll. Psychobilly, which came along a couple of decades later, added a dose of punk rock.

The mastermind behind the Kustom Kulture Festival is Hanah Reed, owner of the RockIt Roost store in Silverdale.

Reed, who opened the store in November 2008, found herself surrounded by an abundance of shoes. She realized that owning a store and moving inventory was more difficult than she thought.

“I was like, ‘Why doesn’t any one want these? These are great shoes,’” Reed recalled. “Then I had a brilliant idea. We will have a pinup contest and charge a fee and they get a free pair of shoes.” Reed knew she didn’t want the contest to be held at a bar, she wanted a more upscale venue. So she dreamt big and her dream turned into the Kustom Kulture Festival.

“It literally went from a pinup contest to get rid of shoes, to this huge festival that takes over the whole hotel grounds,” Mitchell said.

The theme for this year’s pinup girl pageant is “Pinup Girls Save the World.” Contestants compete as either a superhero or villain and have three outfit categories: classic pinup, costume and evening gown. Reed keeps track of each contestant’s wardrobe to ensure no one wears the same getup. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a pageant without sashes, crowns and a bit of talent.

“I don’t want to set girls off because of a talent issue, so I call it ‘crowd interaction’ and I encourage them to be creative,” Reed said. Each contestant has a minute and a half to sing, dance, walk the stage or do something original.

A previous winner wore a pinup-style swimsuit and sang “Splish Splash” while taking a sponge bath. Another contestant performed an Asian-inspired parasol dance.

Reed has strict regulations for the pageant and insists on classiness that leans towards Hollywood glamour.

She holds classes on car etiquette and teaches the contestants how to pose with vintage cars, without upsetting the owner. They learn to not step on running boards with high heels and not to leave fingerprints on the car’s finish.

“We practice so the girls feel confident and not nervous,” Reed said.

Mitchell books the bands and said while all of the acts have a rockabilly feel, some are edgier than others. Because of that, he alternates the schedule of the bands to keep a nice mix throughout the day.

Bands such as Rocketz and Three Bad Jacks hail from Los Angeles. Other acts are from Seattle.  The band with the shortest commute is Tumbledown. They’re from Bremerton.

As the adults rock to tunes, a bouncy house, craft tables and face painting will entertain the younger crowd.

Mitchell said it’s fun to see people cut loose and have a fun time. The festival has an air of freedom about it. Buttoned-up businessmen who spend the work-week in long sleeves and ties, come out sporting short sleeves and tattoos, he said.

Reed said she enjoys celebrating an era. Along with the pinup contestants, she has also chosen three outfits to wear at the festival.

“I just love the style of the 1950s. It was very glamorized to be a lady,” she said. “It’s nice to spend the time and make yourself look pretty and still be classy and sexy no matter what size you are.”

— KUSTOM KULTURE FESTIVAL: May 21, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., at the Silverdale Beach Hotel, 3073 NW Bucklin Hill Road, Silverdale. Admission: $20, children 12 and younger get in for free.

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