The 150th birthday party for a special house; the 15th Annual Chinook Oktoberfest; and the 35th Annual Water Music Festival — are we getting old or do we just have a surfeit of riches on the Peninsula? Could be a little of both.
First, the house birthday party, AKA the “Grand Affair:” it has all blown over by the time you read this, but I can say without hesitation a good time was had by all. It took place in Oysterville at the home of Sydney and Nyel Stevens in the house built by Tom Crellin in 1869. All sorts of living has happened in that house: generations of kids have been raised there; lots of church families passed through (it was the parsonage for the Oysterville Church for awhile); there is a resident ghost; and there are even tales of teenaged Sydney sliding down the roof from one of the second story bedroom windows for late night assignations. (I wonder if the docents included this in their house tour remarks?)
As the mistress of music for the event, I dubbed it the Oysterville Woodstock because so many local musician of note—and others coming from a distance — performed: Larry Murante, Fred Carter, Brian Foster, Starla Gable and yours truly, Brian O’Connor and George Coleman, Double J and the Boys, the Oyster Crackers, Randal Bays and Susan Waters. (Bill Svendsen, of the Peninsula Arts Center, was our equipment mix-master with pop-up assistance from Steve Kovach.) Between Ute Marx and her German hunting horn (she kicked off the whole event), Generalissimo Nyel Stevens shooting off the cannon around 4ish, fiddlers, multiple guitars, a Greek bouzouki, birthday cakes, balloons, flowers, tents, croquet and bocce ball courts, badminton, and tours of the old girl herself (the House!) it was a madcap Sunday of conviviality and fun. We set up in a nearly torrential rain but all kept the faith; and it was rewarded when the sun broke through around mid-afternoon. Finally blue skies reigned over Oysterville. As Sydney’s daughter Marta said, “The ancestors took care of it!”
Another event you can take in this coming weekend is the Friends of Chinook School 15th Annual Oktoberfest, Sept. 28 from 5 to 9 p.m. I can tell you from firsthand experience, this is another event not to be missed.
It’s a fundraiser for the school and includes a meal, silent and live auctions. Dinner is served until 8 p.m., (and, believe me, you will not leave hungry). The Beach Buddies Band will provide live music and tickets are available at the door: $35, children under 12 are free.
This all takes place at the renovated and renewed gymnasium of the Chinook School at 810 Highway 101. If you have only caught a sidelong glance of this restoration project from the highway, it might be time you stop in and see what the Chinook Friends have wrought. Bringing this community resource back from the brink was and is a labor of love; and every aspect of the building has been beautiful restored.
It all takes place in the gymnasium/cafeteria behind the schoolhouse. You’ll see the stage that birthed not only community plays, sparking interest in drama in Chinook village students, but also has a strong link with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Festival founder Angus L. Bowmer, born in Bellingham, was a teacher and drama enthusiast in Chinook before he went on to create the festival.
The silent and live auctions are a lively part of the fundraiser. Expect to see all manner of local art and craft objects, wine, food, and other donated delicacies on the auction tables. Get a paddle when you come in the door and be ready. It’s all for a great cause.
Water Music Society
And last but certainly not least, the Water Music Society is celebrating its 35th annual Water Music Festival, coming soon: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 11, 12 and 13, in venues from Ilwaco to Oysterville. I’ve been raving about this festival since I first attended the brilliant piano performance of Alpin Hong last year.
I can’t say this strongly enough — if you love music, plan to attend at least one of these performances. (The full program is here: https://watermusicfestival.com). The quality of the performers is top of the line. These musicians would be welcomed in any urban cultural center in the nation, and, amazingly and conveniently, they are coming to our little corner of the world due to the diligent work of the Water Music Society (WMS).
First just a note or two about the WMS itself. Many folks don’t realize that this organization, a 501-C3, is responsible not only for the Water Music weekend every year but also Music in the Gardens, Jazz and Oysters, and the Christmas Concert. Also perhaps too hidden from view is the enormous financial boost the society gives every year to budding musicians in our community.
As WMS board vice-president Diane Marshall said, “This year we gathered up the wish lists from every school, now including Naselle, and we donated $11,000 to help fulfill every wish on that list, from buying 18 recorders, to 25 copies of a music song book, to helping with transportation to events — just to name a few of the requests we received. We’re proud to be so solvent that we can help our young musicians and music educators.” I’d say that’s an understatement.
Back in 1985, the founders of this phenomenally success group decided that living in a remote area shouldn’t mean that our community couldn’t enjoy the richness of high quality chamber music. And that’s how it all started. Now you’ll see from the offerings that performances span the range of musical styles from classical strings to dazzling torch songs.
We have the original board members to thank for their vision: Dennis and Kathie Crabb, Doug Goelz, Anne Hauser, Ann Kischner, Joel Penoyar, Mchael and Amanda Robinson, Ann Saari, Kathleen Sayce, Pat Thomas, Pat Welling, and Charles (Carlos) Welsh. Several of these original board members will be present and honored at the 35th anniversary celebrations.
Also, the original painting that serves as an icon for the WMS — a harpsichord being played in the ocean — was created by noted local Noel Thomas. This year as an added treat, a high-quality print of Noel’s painting will be part of a drawing.
I caught up to Pat Thomas at the aforementioned birthday party and she confirmed that, yes, they did put the Crabb’s harpsichord out in the surf; and then Dennis, Kathie, and Noel (pretending to play instruments) stood in the water around Pat — seated at the harpsichord as her piano bench was slowing sinking into the sand. “While we were waiting for someone to take a photo, we got soaked!” Pat said. “Eventually a Chinook Observer photographer got a great shot of us all — then the next year Noel made the painting.”
Our Peninsula has so many tales to tell! Get out of your chair and get out to one of these events — be part of the adventure.