Arts and Entertainment

Cedar Cove Days visualize Debbie's world

Macomber
Macomber's 'Cedar Cove' comes to life this summer in Port Orchard
— image credit: Courtesy Photo/Dan McDougall Illustration

City of Port Orchard set for town festival fashioned from local author Debbie Macomber’s novels, Aug. 26-30.

Fans of Debbie Macomber’s prose will be coming home to a place they’ve never been before during Cedar Cove Days from Aug. 26-30.

Port Orchard, which serves as the setting for numerous Macomber novels under the pseudonym Cedar Cove, is as central a character as any person in the storyline.

The inaugural Cedar Cove Days gives nod to Macomber’s works — to which her readers have a fond emotional attachment — and the impact they’ve had on the best-selling author’s hometown. For her fans, it’s all about personal connections she so easily forges.

“That’s part of what makes her so special and why her fans adore her,” said Cindy Lucarelli, one of the Cedar Cove Days organizers. “When we did a walkabout downtown, she was saying ‘hi’ to merchants and telling them she really wanted them to succeed. She has this amazing ability to connect with people.”

Several thousand people from 36 states are expected to converge on Port Orchard to transport themselves into the fantasy small town that’s painted the backdrop for her best-selling series. These fans, who know Macomber’s books inside out, will walk down Bay Street and see familiar sights, even though they’ve never before stepped foot on Port Orchard’s soil.

From Macomber’s pen, 150 books have flowed, selling upwards of 60 million copies. Her romance books find their popularity based in realistic events that could happen to anyone. She writes several different series, with one of the most popular set in the small town of Cedar Cove — a slightly re-imagined version of Port Orchard. Macomber’s lived in Port Orchard for her entire writing career. Like most masters of her craft, she writes best about what she knows.

Her books were so evocative that readers started turning up in Port Orchard to experience the Cedar Cove prototype firsthand. These visits were random and unguided.

This activity came to the attention of Port Orchard residents Jerry Childs and Lucarelli, who began planning Cedar Cove Days more than a year ago. There was a little bump in the road when the economy dive-bombed, but the two gambled that Macomber fans wouldn’t allow a little thing like a recession to mess up the opportunity.

Childs tapped into his inner event planner, which he was already in touch with through his work with the Sequim Lavender Festival.

Cedar Cove Days could set the standard for celebrity-based events, they contend blending elements of a literary festival and an extended social occasion. This format is a natural for Macomber, because of her gregariousness and a genuine affection for her readers.

“She’s just a small-town girl, and she’s never forgotten where she’s come from,” Lucarelli said.

Fans who approach her are treated like old friends, and never get the impression she is a celebrity who would rather be elsewhere. As a result, there aren’t many authors who could pull off some of the events planned for Cedar Cove Days like a cruise/dinner, knitting class and discussion, much less personal contact with her fans for such an extended period, and making them feel welcome.

She’ll likely pick up a few more fans as Cedar Cove Days progresses.

Lucarelli herself wasn’t much a fan before, but in planning Cedar Cove Days, she was inspired to pick up her first Macomber novel.

“If I wasn’t a fan before, I am now,” Lucarelli said.

FIND CEDAR COVE SCHEDULES and more info on Cedar Cove Days at www.cedarcoveassociation.com.

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