NAHCOTTA — With the Jazz and Oysters music festival moving to the Port of Peninsula (PoP) in Nahcotta this weekend, it seems right that the musicians would be performing on a stage befitting the event.
The deck of the former oyster dredge May West will be making its official debut as a stage at the annual event, after the Northern Oyster Company donated the retired vessel to the port earlier this summer.
The decking is being replaced this week with wood and a textured material, after a test run at an earlier event found that the original stainless steel decking made the set uncomfortable for the musicians.
“The stainless can be slippery, or be really hot up there,” said PoP Harbormaster Tony Kangas. “You’d get a suntan from the feet up! This will be better for events. It’s a great old boat.”
The May West stage is a key feature of the new event space the port has set up on the east side of their small boat basin parking lot. The grassy area under a large shade tree has been fenced in for hosting festivals and other community events.
They hosted the Northwest Garlic Festival there in June and will also be the venue for the Peninsula Rhythm and Blues Festival in September.
The barge is one of two retired oyster boats that have been donated to PoP recently, with the Herrold family also having contributed their historic boat, Tokeland. The boat, which is more than 100 years old, is planned to become an interpretive exhibit in the future. It is undecided where the Tokeland will be on display (it is currently in the shipyard) or what all the exhibit will include.
“I don’t have an exact timeline, as we’re running out of summer,” Kangas said.
“But I think [the Tokeland] is just an awesome boat. I know a lot of the old-timers here really love seeing these boats because there is so much history behind them.”
Built in 1905, the Tokeland was refurbished by Harlan Herrold when he returned from World War II. For a long time, it was the oldest working wood boat on Willapa Bay.