Bellingham’s identity lives in the water, the people, and the rich history that ebbs and flows around Bellingham Bay. The Fourth Annual Bellingham SeaFeast will showcase Bellingham’s waterfront, maritime heritage, and its internationally-renowned fishing and seafood industry’s unsurpassed culinary bounty. But while you’re downing a local oyster or grilled wild salmon, don’t overlook the equally impressive visual and performing arts and musical entertainment they have planned for September 21 and 22, 2019.
The waterfront was and has remained life-giving for both the Coast Salish Peoples and the generations of commercial fishermen, boat builders, and fish processors that descended from the European settlers. Bellingham SeaFeast’s two-day festival each September celebrates this cultural heritage. It’s an excellent way to appreciate the best of what the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Parents dropping students off at Western Washington University should plan to stop by. Taking place across several venues on the waterfront and in the Downtown Bellingham Arts District, the seafood, poetry, visual arts, music, competitions and games, and interactive tours will delight and satisfy visitors and locals of any age or interest.
Entrance to the festival and many of the events are free and open to all ages. A few of the events require tickets so get yours early in case they sell out.
How it Began
The Bellingham/Whatcom County region has three legacy industries at its roots: agriculture, forestry/wood, and commercial fishing/maritime trades. SeaFeast showcases the maritime sector and its booming economic impact locally, regionally, and internationally. Bellingham SeaFeast was founded as a nonprofit festival after an organizing group won a seed grant from the City of Bellingham Tourism Commission. The City of Bellingham and the Port of Bellingham continue to collaborate on waterfront redevelopment to intentionally connect the City and its visitors with the bounty of the sea.
An Overview of the Fun
This action-packed weekend opens Friday, September 20 with a short film showcase at Downtown’s Pickford Film Center. Each film was inspired by water in some way and attendees can pick up their $10 FisherPoets button at the door which can then be used for the movie and at the four FisherPoet Venus on Saturday evening.
On Saturday and Sunday, September 21 and 22, a number of fun- and food-filled events occur simultaneously at Squalicum Harbor and Zuanich Point Park and nearby locations. It’s best to check the website for the exact time and location for each event. At 10 a.m. each day SeaFeed at the Harbor food court with more than 25 local and Pacific Northwest food vendors opens along with SeaFeast Wharf vendors. There you can taste a variety of local food and get your souvenirs and gifts. The seafood feeding fun continues all day Saturday, perfectly paired with local brews and Pacific Northwest music on the Squalicum Harbor waterfront and in Zuanich Point Park.
Meet and talk with a local fisherman at the Sawtooth Dock both days at 10 a.m. and on Saturday plan to take a fishing vessel tour at Gate 5. From demonstrations and exhibits including knot-tying and net-mending demos, and Guess the Fish Species, everyone will stay entertained.
If you’ve ever wondered how a seafood company operates, take a tour of Bornstein Seafoods, with group tours running hourly from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. If your favorite part is the seafood, then be sure to get your tickets for Taste the Sea, presented by Haggen Northwest Fresh. You’ll experience an hour-long tasting of the finest Pacific Northwest seafood. You’ll see live prep with local chefs and vendors and have the option of wine sample pairings. Four sessions will be offered on Saturday between 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Space is limited so get those tickets in advance.
On Saturday you can take a peek into modern boat building on the All American Marine Industry Tour. Tours depart every half hour between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Or learn about the 73-year history of largest portside cold storage on the West Coast on the San Juan Cruises Harbor Ride & Bellingham Cold Storage Tour that departs at noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday.
To taste the best in local beer, stop by Brews with a View Beer Garden, open noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
You also won’t want to miss the Helicopter Rescue at Sea demonstration by the U.S. Coast Guard along the shores of Bellingham Bay at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
On Sunday at 10 a.m. you can take a free Waterfront Restoration Tour with ReSources to learn about all the ongoing activities of the port’s waterfront redevelopment.
If that weren’t enough, you can also enjoy poetry, live music and art on the Zuanich Point Park Main stage and at a variety of venues in the Downtown Bellingham Arts District. There you’ll learn about and celebrate our maritime culture through the arts. You can sing along with sea shanties, see videos, and hear original poems, choral performances, and storytelling of life at sea.
Below are just a few of the details of all that you can explore at your own pace.
Main stage entertainment in Zuanich Point Park begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday and runs through 8 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
No matter what kind of music you like, there will be music for you to sing along with, dance to or just tap your feet at this Seafeast. Singer songwriter Jon Lee of Astoria, Oregon, high energy soul and dance with the Motown Cruisers, Skagit Swings All Star Big Band, The Naughty Blokes rock and roll, The Prozac Mountain Boys bluegrass, and Global Heat’s soul, R & B, funk with break dancing will all perform in this action-packed weekend.
In 2017, this video of Global Heat’s For A LifeTime won the People’s Choice Award at the Bellingham Music Film Festival.
Bring chairs, a blanket or your dancing shoes and see a range of music styles and performances. Zuanich Point Park has a beautiful view of the marina, clean restrooms, a playground area for the kids and is ADA accessible.
A celebration of the commercial fishing industry in poetry, prose and song, the FisherPoets Gathering first began in Astoria, Oregon in 1998. Bellingham SeaFeast borrows from their tradition.
A $10 FisherPoets button gets you in to all Saturday FisherPoets events held simultaneously at four venues beginning at 5:30 p.m. Boundary Bay’s Mountain Room, Honey Moon Mead & Cider, Mt. Baker Theatre’s Encore Room and the Rotunda Room at Whatcom Museum will all host salty sea stories, shanties, poems and songs throughout the evening
At 7:30 p.m. the Whatcom Museum Rotunda Room will also host a performance by the Choir of the Salish Sea.
Many local FisherPoets from previous years are expected to return. A highlight will be WA State Book Award Nominee for Poetry and 2018 Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize winner Sierra Golden.
More than 20 arts vendors will be around throughout the weekend whose work will emphasize our thriving marine heritage and lively Salish Sea. Artists will share their fine art paintings, photography, metal and glass work, handmade soaps, pottery and ceramics, jewelry and more. I like to grab a few Pacific Northwest themed items to include in my holiday gift giving.
On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. families can enjoy the Field of Fun, an array of hands-on, creative, maritime-themed activities for kids and a few for adults too at Zuanich Point Park. Over 25 organizations are participating in the Education & Outreach Passport Activity, coordinated by Whatcom Watershed Information Network & Salish Sea Institute. Play creatively while learning about the maritime culture and history of our area.
Plan nothing else during Bellingham SeaFeast weekend so you can immerse yourself in Bellingham’s maritime culture. Fresh seafood, cold brew, hot music, local art and hands-on history will fascinate the whole family.
- September 21 & 22, 2019
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