Holiday weekend activites herald lots of summer fun


Although the Memorial Day Weekend has its origins as a time to commemorate wartime casualties, it has also come to represent the beginning of summer.

 We may not have gotten much summertime weather, but the festivals and special events, particularly outdoor ones, have begun.

 The Seattle Mariners hosted the New York Yankees over the weekend in what was perhaps the M’s most important series of the 2011 season.  Both teams are competing for first place in their divisions, and the Mariners took two out of three in convincing fashion by riding their stellar pitching and playing sound “small-ball” baseball.

 Nevertheless, not all Mariners fans are convinced their team is the real deal, and Safeco Field had about 10,000 empty seats throughout the series.

 As expected, though, Yankees fans did turn out in force, and occupied about half the seats.

“Yeah, there sure are a lot of Yankees fans here today,” several M’s fans told me at the Sunday game, which the Yankees won 7-1.

 Yankees fans in attendance also brought with them a special reverence for their memories of the glory years, with several fans wearing jerseys commemorating Mickey Mantle (Rick Gray of Manley Hot Springs, Alaska); Roger Maris (Caleb Feist of Burns, Oregon); and even Joe DiMaggio (Darrell Bliss).

As for many Yankees fans, attending the game was an important psychological ritual linking their past to the present.  Recent New York transplants to Whidbey Island, Rodney Marshall, (who not only had a try-out with the Yanks after high school but also had a call-back!) and his wife Robi brought the family to their first Yankees game at Safeco.

The Marshall family, right to left, Rodney, Robi, Janiece Black, Abigail, Cale, Whitney Steyn and Andrew.

 Further uptown, the 40th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival was in full swing.  As the world’s largest free folk music festival, the crowds were humongous – estimated to be in excess of 200,000 folks – and they encamped throughout the grounds of the Seattle Center.  As a free concert, though, many of the thousands of performers are not paid, so the quality of music approaches high caliber open-mic status and not the level of a grander music festival which charges for admission, such as the renown Bumbershoot, held in September.

 Nevertheless, the charm of Folklife is really the myriad of fine musicians jamming on the lawn or in the stairwells.  The street scene atmosphere also brings out the buskers, and Roberto the Magnificent – one half of the cherished Gentlemen Jugglers – delighted his audience as deliciously as the Gentlemen did for over 20 years.

 Another aspect of Folklife is the audience participation, such as sing-alongs or folk dancing, and thousands of contra dancers filled the spacious floor of the Fisher Pavilion from noon until 10 pm in a never-ending stream of “do-si-do’s,” and “right-hand stars.”

 Along those lines, this year’s Folklife celebrated the traditions of two splendid cultures -Brazil and Bulgaria, and attendees were able to sample some of their dances. 

 Center House Stage hosted several Bulgarian folk groups that led hundreds of dancers in what appeared to be a cross between Zorba the Greek and a New York Jewish wedding.  Despite being both familiar and exotic, the dancers seemed to have a lot of fun.

The "Alas-Alas" wailing at Folklife

 The Brazilian fest took place outdoors on the huge Mural Stage underneath the Space Needle.  As belly-dancing women, replete with feathers sprouting from every angle swayed on stage and conjured images of Rio and Ipanema, many in the audience joined with them and moved to the hypnotic congas and djembe of stylish rhythm bands.

 Next weekend, June 3-5, and closer to home, the 5th Annual Mt. Rainier Independent Film Festival in Ashford will be offering 35 dynamic films in a variety of genres.

 Besides seeing a bevy of unique films from local, national and international film makers, attendees will have the opportunity to mingle with the artists.

 In addition, there will be several workshops offered, with Seattle film mogul Warren Etheridge delivering a class on how to craft a compelling scene, titled:  “Do Make a Scene!”

 All events will be held in Ashford locations, such as the Lions Hall or the Nisqually Lodge, and a weekend pass costs $35.  For more information contact or call (253) 370-3520.

 Also next weekend, and down-valley a ways in Puyallup, the Fairgrounds will host its first Mother Earth News Fair on Saturday and Sunday, June 4-5.

Produced by Mother Earth Magazine, which has a readership of three million and has been helping folks live a self-reliant, sustainable and healthy life style for 40 years, the Fair is one of several Mother Earth will offer across the country.

 The festival will offer a broad view of self-sufficiency, with practical hands-on workshops from the leading authorities on renewable energy, small-scale agriculture, green building and transportation, and natural health.

 In addition, many vendors will be in attendance, including the locally popular Silk Road Solar, which will have its solar hot water heating systems on display along with anaerobic digesters and other innovative technologies for self-reliant living.

Solar Hot Water system on display in Yelm earlier this month.

 Another local operation, the South Sound Youth Build Project, will display their 77 square-foot sustainable house that is powered by a mobile solar power station.

 Special features of the fair include alt-energy vehicles, home-made bread baked in home-made ovens, and discussions on permaculture and bioshelter designs led by author and Oregon farmer Darrell Frey. 

 Also, attendees will be able to swap seeds and sample organic beverages in the Beer and Wine Garden, and the Fair promises to be family-friendly with lots of activities for kids, with plenty of livestock, craft demonstrations and children’s projects.

 Prices range from $15-40, and children under 17 are free.  For more information contact  or call (800) 234-3368.

©  2011  The Mountain News – WA




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