Arts and Entertainment

Bremerton’s Blackberry Festival brings cause for celebration

Blackberry lovers will flock to Bremerton’s boardwalk next weekend to celebrate the berry and its many uses. For the 19th consecutive year, the blackberry will reign supreme during Bremerton’s Blackberry Festival Aug. 30, 31 and Sept. 1.

The festival is as multipurpose as the berry itself: It gives summer a final hurrah while embracing the upcoming fall season. But, most importantly, it offers a chance for Bremerton to show itself to an anticipated 50,000 visitors as they soak in the final vestiges of the summer sunshine, partake in the food and revelry and enjoy the free entertainment.

For Festival Director Carol Atkinson, the festival doubles as a Labor Day task and a labor of love. For as long as there has been a festival of blackberries, there has been a Carol Atkinson behind the scenes. In those few moments throughout the year when Atkinson isn’t planning and prepping for the festival, she doubles as the executive director for the Bremerton Main Stream Association.

This year’s festival has offerings for the hungry and healthy alike, with a fun run, a bike race and plenty of good eats for all, Atkinson said.

“We found the right recipe and we’re sticking with it,” she said.

Just as in prior years, the food will bring festival-goers in and the entertainment will keep them occupied between trips to the food booths.

Performing this year on the main stage are local festival favorites Everyday Jones, Kelly Thibodeaux & Etouffee, HD Fusion, Soul Purpose and Clave Con Jazz.

Blackberry celebrants also can tap into their inner artist during the seventh annual chalk art contest on Saturday morning. Entries are $10 per person and contestants can check in from 11:30 a.m. to noon at the old Westsound Bank Building on Second Street.

And, with a chalk art contest on the books, that brings to mind the question of the fickle Northwest weather as our version of summer fades into fall. That being said, the question looms: Will it rain?

Atkinson promises it won’t.

“We always promise no rain,” she said, recalling that promise backfired in most memorable fashion one year. “One year it absolutely poured. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. The next day, the sun came out and it was beautiful.”

Aside from the entertainment and the promise of clear skies and sunshine, Atkinson can’t help but mention the main attraction in all its versatile glory. There will be nearly 130 food booths, and, in true Blackberry Festival fashion, no two booths are the same.

There will be plenty of opportunities to earn purple stains on T-shirts while food vendors offer jellies, jams, muffins, breads and ice creams of the blackberry variety.

This year, there will even be a blackberry-based barbecue sauce. As always, vino lovers can delight in their annual fix of blackberry wine, which will be available with much abundance.

Because the human body can only eat so much in a day, Atkinson suggests return visits are always welcome.

“A lot of people come all three days,” she said. “You can only eat so much in one day.”

With the renovations in downtown Bremerton making parking interesting, Atkinson strongly suggests Blackberry Festival-goers take advantage of Kitsap Transit’s free shuttle buses from Olympic College’s parking lot. The shuttle will run from the parking area at 16th and Warren Avenue every 15 minutes, she said.

For more information about Bremerton’s Blackberry Festival, go to www.blackberryfestival.org.

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