BELLINGHAM - Fairhaven Festival organizers are willing to cede the title of "Eighth Leg of the Race" to the beer garden near Ski to Sea's finish line at Marine Park. The festival's own beer garden, on McKenzie Avenue between 10th and 11th streets, stands on its own.
The beer garden is about 35 years old, and the name Festival committee chairwoman Anna Williams prefers to give it is, "the historic Fairhaven Festival beer garden."
"We're not the eighth leg of the race," Williams said. "My beer garden is so old, it's almost like a big class reunion. If you go there, you see people that are from 21, 22 - Western (Washington University) students - to people who are 60 and 70, which I am. We have a lot of fun."
Racers, spectators and those just looking for something to do on a Sunday afternoon will converge on Fairhaven on May 26 to do just that - have fun. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The beer garden will pour from noon to 6:30 p.m.
Bellingham could get some rain on Sunday, but Williams has a ready answer for those who worry about the weather.
"Don't be afraid of the weather. Every year, knock on wood, for 15 years, if it looks like it's crappy that morning ... by 2 o'clock, the sun is always out," Williams said.
Success certainly has shined on the festival in recent years. Last year, an estimated 40,000 people showed up to the free event. Spaces for vendors have sold out every year for the past seven or eight years, Williams said. These include commercial and craft vendors, and 23 food vendors this year.
An event this big will have its inconveniences, parking being most conspicuous. Visitors can drive up and down west Happy Valley and maybe find a space on someone's front lawn, converted for the day into a pay parking lot. Or festival-goers can avoid the hassle and take a shuttle (see below).
Music will play all day at the festival, on the big stage on McKenzie above 11th Street, and on the Village Green stage. Chinese dancers kick off the Village Green lineup at 1 p.m.
More information is at fairhaven.com/festivals.
TAKE THE SHUTTLE
Try the newly expanded Ski to Sea shuttle system provided by Bellair Charters and The Baker Bus.
Two separate routes:
Western Washington University (C lot by the Wade King Recreation Center) to Fairhaven;
Downtown (Boundary Bay Brewery) goes to Zuanich Point Park (Coho/Roeder Avenue) or Fairhaven (12th Street and McKenzie Avenue).
Shuttle departs from each location every 15 minutes from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (except Zuanich, last shuttle leaves at 6 p.m.). Last shuttle departs Fairhaven at 8 p.m.
Cost is $3 for an unlimited ride ticket for the day, exact change only. Tickets will be sold day of at WWU C Lot and in front of Boundary Bay Brewery.
Reach RALPH SCHWARTZ at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2298.