As spring kicks into gear, familiar May events start to make their way back onto calendars - think the Ski to Sea junior parade and race. This year there is a brand new event that is sure to become a new tradition: the first annual Whatcom Water Fest.
The festival will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 18, at Maritime Heritage Park, located at 500 W. Holly St. in Bellingham.
The free event will feature live music, workshops and lots of hands-on activities for kids and adults, all with the goal of celebrating Puget Sound.
Sustainable Connections, the City of Bellingham, the Environmental Protection Agency, Puget Sound Parternship and Puget Sound Starts Here teamed up to put together the event, which will feature information from at least 15 partner organizations.
Educational activities will be mixed with face painting, ice cream and giveaways like a free boat rental from Fairhaven's Community Boating Center and a 50-gallon rain cistern.
"Our project goals are to build issue awareness, change behaviors, and develop social change," said Rose Lathrop, the green building and smart growth manager at Sustainable Connections.
Through the event, organizers hope to help people identify with their place in the Puget Sound.
"A lot of people don't identify Bellingham Bay as part of Puget Sound," Lathrop said. "We want to get people engaged with that and talk about things we can do to protect Puget Sound."
Some of the events kids can look forward to include fish art with the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, free Mallard ice cream after signing a watershed pledge at the Sustainable Connections booth, and the Marine Life Center's "Touch Tank," which will feature touchable live animals such as starfish and other small sea creatures.
In addition to Mallard Ice Cream, a variety of other vendors will offer food at the festival.
Programming and giveaways will be ongoing throughout the four-hour event, so visitors are encouraged to drop in whenever they can, Lathrop said.
Each partner organization will focus on its work with the streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands and other waterways that flow into Puget Sound.
A few of the participating groups include NW Rain Solutions, Plantas Nativas, the Community Boating Center, ReSources for Sustainable Communities, Garden of the Salish Sea, Whatcom Wild, Surfrider Foundation, Taylor Shellfish, Drayton Harbor, and Master Gardeners and Composters.
For more information, check out sustainableconnections.org/events/whatcom-water-fest.
Reach Samantha Wohlfeil at Samantha.Wohlfeil@bellinghamherald.com.