Arts and Entertainment

Harbor festival takes to the waters, shores of Kitsap

Kitsap Harbor Festival entertains on water, land this Memorial Day weekend. - Photo courtesy the Port of Bremerton
Kitsap Harbor Festival entertains on water, land this Memorial Day weekend.
— image credit: Photo courtesy the Port of Bremerton

What might get you questioned for suspicious behavior any other day of the year could win you a quirky title this Saturday, when the 22nd annual Seagull Calling Contest joins forces with the second annual Kitsap Harbor Festival.

“It’s quite strange,” said Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend, a three-time former calling contest judge. “Usually the most odd people do the best, and there are plenty of odd people there for it. And I think they’re proud of that.”

The calling contest has been featured on late night network comedy shows, and is likely the only event of its kind, said Coreen Haydock Johnson, executive director of Port Orchard’s chamber of commerce.

This year marks the first time it will take place Memorial Day weekend in conjunction with the Kitsap Harbor Festival, a sophomore celebration that encourages boaters and land lubbers alike to visit the shores of Bremerton and Port Orchard.

The festival runs in Bremerton from Friday to Monday, May 28-31, and on Saturday and Sunday, May 29-30, in Port Orchard. The Seagull Calling Contest and its sister competition, the Seagull Wings Cook-off, are scheduled for 11:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Port Orchard Waterfront Marina Park.

According to Townsend, the key to a good call is to “be different.” Winners are supposed to be chosen based on who can lure the most seagulls to the sand, but it often comes down to judges’ choice, since no scientific measurement is employed.

It anchors the lineup of festivities in Port Orchard alongside Sunday’s first-ever Taste of Kitsap. From noon to 4 p.m. visitors can sample foods from local eateries.

In Bremerton, Saturday’s Kitsap Car Cruz and Tall Ships Tours and Monday’s memorial service on the Historic USS Turner Joy are event highlights in a four-day festival that is broad in scope, be it relatively new. Kitsap Harbor Festival began last year, after the 2008 debut of the new Bremerton Marina, said Port of Bremerton Facilities Director Steve Slaton. Marine vessels from as far north as Canada and as far south as Olympia came to the event last year, as did an estimated 5,000 locals on land. The waterfronts are a community commodity that tax payers should enjoy — after all, they fund them, Slaton said.

“I think the people that live here and support us ought to get down and enjoy and appreciate what’s there for them,” he said. “What a beautiful resource it is.”

There will be entertainment on and off the water in Bremerton, including tours of the Virginia V and sailboat races. There will be beer gardens and live music on both waterfronts. The Bremerton-Port Orchard foot ferry service will run all four days. Learn more at www.kitsapharborfestival.com and portorchard.com. WU

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