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Cedar Cove festival could be coming to Port Orchard

The scene is idyllic — a small town nestled into the corner of an ocean inlet, bedecked with charm, colorful characters and enough stories to fill seven books.

And if the world of Cedar Cove, found in a series of books written by Debbie Macomber, sounds familiar, it’s because the author based her fictional, small-town paradise on Port Orchard. And with a little help from some local residents, Macomber will bring the characters and story back into the city for a days-long festival.

Cindy Lucarelli and incoming-Port Orchard City Councilman Jerry Childs are proposing the city hold an event called “Cedar Cove Days” to celebrate the local author’s series of novels.

Childs thought up the event after reading about Port Orchard’s best-selling author, and began to work with Lucarelli. They’ve since established the Cedar Cove Association, with Lucarelli acting as executive director. The organization will sponsor this and other events promoting tourism in Port Orchard.

“The whole idea is to bring tourist dollars into Port Orchard,” Lucarelli said.

The organization said the event will support Port Orchard and neighboring communities on the peninsula, bringing in tourist dollars to hotels and restaurants all over the region.

“We think it will be great for a good part of the peninsula,” Lucarelli said.

The organization began raising funds from the series’ publisher and reserving event space for the last weekend in August of 2009.

“The idea has basically started to grow,” Lucarelli said. “And now we’re working on some funding and support. There’s a momentum building that’s wonderful.”

And any money the event does bring in, Lucarelli, will be funds without the controversy surrounding the condominiums recently discussed during the Downtown Overlay District proceedings.

Lucarelli and Childs are confident the festival will be a hit, based on an extensive e-mail list of fans held by the series’ author, and the success of a similar festival in Blowing Rock, N.C., which helped birth the popular “Mitford Series” by Jan Karon.

During the event, local residents will take on the roles of various characters in Macomber’s series, and visitors can refer to the already-published map of Port Orchard marking key locations from the book, including an art gallery (The Sidney Art Gallery and Museum), a victorian tea house (The Victorian Rose Tea Room) or City Hall.

Other notable locations, such as the Port Orchard’s Waterfront Park, the Totem Pole and even a restaurant called DD’s on the Cove (perhaps Amy’s on the Bay?) can be found on the map, which came about when Rebecca Guthrie, owner of the Bethel Avenue Book Company, began to get customer after customer asking where the homes of their favorite characters were located.

Guthrie said at first she could not believe that anyone would travel from Texas, Colorado, Minnesota and even the East Coast to “visit” the homes and businesses of their favorite characters. But she still did everything she could to help the visitors find what they wanted, even drawing up maps herself.

“I was drawing maps on scraps of paper for people, and my husband finally said, ‘You gotta stop doing this,’” she said with a laugh, explaining that she finally asked Macomber — whose office used to be directly above her store — if she could create a map.

Which the author did, and soon it was available for readers to request via mail or to download themselves. Then in conjunction with the release earlier this year of the seventh book in her Cedar Cove series, 74 Seaside Avenue, a full-color, hardcopy version of the map is now available.

Lucarelli and Childs have scheduled a meeting in Kitsap County with the Washington State Tourism Bureau to propose the event.

— Independent Staff Writer Justine Frederiksen contributed to this report.

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