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Old-fashioned fun: A weekend packed with family entertainment in Port Orchard | Kitsap Week
Since the 1960s, a volunteer organization has been dedicated solely to bringing family fun activities to Port Orchard.
Called “Fathoms O' Fun”, the committee assures that community events take place year-round.
Their summer festival runs this weekend and includes a little something for everyone; and if fancy floats and performing pigs are at the top of your fun-list, you're in luck.
The 44th Grand Parade will begin marching from Bay Street in Port Orchard at 6 p.m. on Saturday. With more than 100 entrants, and longer than a mile, the two-hour show will keep spectators entertained with bands, dancers and floats. Participants from as far as Forks and McCleary, Wash. will bring their decked out floats to help Port Orchard celebrate. (And in return, Fathoms O' Fun brings its embellished float to other community parades.)
Earlier this spring horses were excluded from parades due to a possible equine virus outbreak, but now are allowed to take to the streets once again. Organizer Jessie Turner expects the Wells Fargo Stagecoach and its four draft horses to take part, as well as around 20 horses from Kitsap Saddle Club.
“It's a very good parade,” Turner said. “If you like parades, this is one to come to.”
A highlight on Sunday is the 1 p.m. performance by Valentines Performing Pigs at the gazebo at Port Orchard Waterfront Park. The performance group, based out of Gig Harbor, has been featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Late Show with David Letterman and Oprah.
A full time job for owners and trainers Priscilla and Steve Valentine, they take their four performing potbelly pigs to more than 300 shows a year. The performance on Sunday includes 35 fast paced tricks such as skateboarding, jumping through hoops and playing basketball.
Priscilla, who has had a tender spot for pigs since she was young, noticed that her pigs were getting bored around home. She began training Nellie, who Priscilla considers to be their smartest pig. With positive reinforcement, Nellie quickly learned the tricks and now at almost 19 (average life expectancy for potbelly pigs ranges from 10 to 15 years), Nellie is a television star, complete with a special video produced by Animal Planet.
Priscilla never imagined her livelihood would involve performing with pigs.
“I went to school to become a teacher and I ended up as a carnie,” she said.
Each pig has a distinct personality. Nellie is all business. Snort is the humorous and mischievous one. Petunia is the princess and the most beautiful. (Although according to Priscilla, she is also the chubbiest and needs to go on a diet.) Lulu is the one-year-old cutie. (The Valentines are adding another member to the family, eight-week-old Oinky.)
Potbellies were once all the rage as pets, but Priscilla said they've declined in popularity. Oftentimes, owners enjoy them when they’re small in size, but don't have room when they grow to 150 pounds.
“The poor things are on diets their whole lives,” Priscilla said. “They get fat just looking at food.”
Priscilla peruses toy store aisles, searching for props that her piggies can use in performances. She said her pigs are similar to a 2 year old child.
“We've never had children, and the pigs kind of took the place of children,” Priscilla said. “My mother has never forgiven me because we had pigs instead of grandchildren.”
Throughout the weekend, toe-tapping live music will resound from Port Orchard Waterfront Park gazebo. Friday's featured act will spice things up when the Cajun band File' Gumbo takes to the stage at 6:30 p.m. One-man-band Dean Paul Ratzman performs Saturday at 1 p.m. Ratzman plays piano, trumpet and trombone and performs a variety of music such as swing and rock. At 3 p.m. on Sunday Freestyle performs hits from the 50's and 60's and will get the crowd grooving.
Kids will enjoy an old-fashioned frog and snake race at noon on Saturday. Children should bring their own entries to the event held at Kitsap Bank in downtown Port Orchard.
Turner emphasized that this is a humane event and the children are urged to release the animals back where they found them, but not before the Fathom Royalty is photographed kissing a frog, and perhaps turning one into a prince.
Rounding out the weekend is a 5K on Saturday morning beginning at South Kitsap Community Park and a craft and vendor show all weekend along the waterfront. Children’s activities include pony rides and bouncy houses.
In the past, the summer festival has drawn in many tourists to the area, filling up hotel rooms and bringing tourism dollars to Kitsap.
“With the three day event, Port Orchard is a very busy and fun place to be,” Turner said.