A weekend festival kicks off a summer of informative events at Birch Bay State Park on the shoreline south of Blaine.
ShellFest, a celebration of the mollusk, is among several activities planned this month at the park, which offers camping, nature trails and tide pooling on a cobblestone shoreline. ShellFest is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 12, outside the nearly completed Heron Center on Helwig Road inside the park.
Admission is free, but park visitors will need a $30 annual Discover Pass or $10 day-use pass.
State Parks representative Srey Ryser said the festival will feature food, activities and education about restoring and protecting shellfish beds in Puget Sound as part of former Gov. Christine Gregoire's statewide Shellfish Initiative.
There will be hourly low-tide walks guided by local experts, displays of live local shellfish and hands-on activities for children, including shellfish-related art projects.
"We'll do paper-plate clams, face-painting, drawing and coloring," Ryser said.
Taylor Shellfish and the nonprofit Friends of Birch Bay State Park will provide lunch of sauteed clams and chowder from noon to 2 p.m. There's a suggested donation of $5 per person or $15 per family to benefit the Washington State Parks Foundation.
Ryser said the volunteers who built the BP Heron Center for Environmental Education hope to have the building open in time for ShellFest.
In addition to ShellFest, several education talks and activities are being offered this summer at the park.
In the coming days, there's:
-- "Salmon Speak," a discussion of the salmon's role in the Puget Sound economy and ecosystem with the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association from 6-7 p.m. Friday, July 11, in the park's Wildlife Theatre. It's an all-ages talk about the salmon lifecycle and how NSEA works to improve salmon habitat along Terrell Creek.
-- A free Streamside Walk for all ages is from 10-11 a.m. Saturday, July 12, starting at the park's Wildlife Theatre. Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association representatives will offer a guided walk along Terrell Creek. Participants are asked to wear closed-toe shoes.
-- Park Pandemonium, which features games for fun and fitness for children and a beach walk with the Friends of Birch Bay State Park from 1-3 p.m. Thursday, July 17, at the lower-level beach area.