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TV cameras follow seagulls to S. Kitsap

Seagull Calling Contest emcee Bryan Petro, right, hams it up with
Seagull Calling Contest emcee Bryan Petro, right, hams it up with 'Evening Magazine' host John Curley while filming a segment Wednesday.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/Staff photo

If the crowds are larger than normal Saturday at the Seagull Calling Contest (which begins at 1 p.m.), it's probably due to the annual event being featured on television again this week.

Although Port Orchard's signature competition has reportedly been mentioned on at least three national shows, Wednesday was the first time the locally produced Evening Magazine visited to cover it.

But with the show airing Thursday night and the event not scheduled until Saturday, a little bit of TV magic -- or, rather, staging -- was used to create the contest on cue.

Gamely offering up seagull calls for the camera while dodging rain showers along the waterfront were this year's Fathoms o'Fun court and Russ Hallsted, who woos gulls every year with his distinctive skunk hat, "suey" call and super-sized bag of Cheetos.

Hallsted said he first entered the contest by accident one morning while kayaking from Manchester to Port Orchard when he stopped to see why so many people were on the beach.

When asked -- or cajoled -- to compete, he said he obliged, explaining that Cheetos became his bait of choice because he happened to have a bag with him that first day.

Fathoms Queen Brianna Martin, who won the group category last year with former queen Bailey Jo Nelson and princess Ischalyn Frei by offering up the gull-favored french fries, returned to call in more birds with newly crowned princess Rachelle Jensen and prince Alan Johnson.

Capturing all this was Evening Magazine's host John Curley and his cameraman, after arriving in Port Orchard a few hours later than scheduled but still more than welcome.

Curley was expected to fly the show's seaplane into the marina that morning, but the plane was quickly grounded after an unfortunate encounter with a bird. (When asked if the creature had indeed been a seagull, host Curley said he was "not at liberty to say.")

Kathy Garcia, marina administrator for the Port of Bremerton, said she contacted the show's producers in the hopes they might be interested in highlighting the event, and was excited to have them comply.

As a member of the Chamber of Commerce's board of directors, Garcia is also chair of the Seagull Calling Contest this year and said she wanted to stir up as much publicity and excitement as possible for it.

Also interviewed by Curley for the show were Port of Bremerton Commissioner Mary Ann Huntington, who has judged the competition for 15 years, and longtime emcee Bryan Petro, who sported a thoroughly Northwest tuxedo by donning sandals and white socks on his feet.

Curley gamely obliged both Petro's request to film his footwear and Huntington's to show the winner's trophy, but firmly refused to give the Candy Shoppe's "Seagull Plop" a plug.

"What are you thinking? We can't show poop on TV," he said, laughing.

Following the event Saturday, which will honor categories such as "Most Authentic Seagull Call," "Most Seagulls Called," "Best Costume" and "Judge's Award," the Port Orchard Farmer's Market will be in full swing, where visitors who haven't had enough of the beach birds can reportedly snack on "Seagull Wings."

FYI: Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, contest begins at 1 p.m. Music by SPF-50 begins at noon.

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