Blackberry Festival brings crowds to downtown Bremerton

John Glasser, of Ryderwood, shows his wind chimes made of glass bottles. He
John Glasser, of Ryderwood, shows his wind chimes made of glass bottles. He's one of many crafters with booths at Bremerton's Blackberry Festival. The festival continues today and Monday.
— image credit: Leslie Kelly

Blackberries were everywhere on Saturday in downtown Bremerton as hundreds of people celebrated the annual festival that the city claims as its best.

Helen Peterson, of Prosser, and her friends PJ Chong and Frank Ramirez, came to Bremerton to take part in the Chief Select run.

"We were looking for a run that we could do," said Peterson. "We were coming to Seattle for Bumbershoot and decided to come over here today, first, to do the run."

The 5K and 10K runs were among the first events of the day. Peterson, who is recovering from a knee surgery, said she did "OK" in the run.

"I wasn't really trying to compete," she said. "Just get back into running."

After the run, the trio walked through the festival looking at the crafts for sale and taking in a few treats. They tried a blackberry crepe, a raspberry slug and a clam gyro.

"Everything was great," Peterson said. "I love the setting for this festival and there's such great smells. Everybody is so friendly. We're planning on coming back next year."

Just a ways down the street, Danny Harvey, of Bremerton, stood in line with his wife and four children waiting for pony rides. It was the family's first time at Blackberry Fest and they were having a great time.

"We just got here and had to take in the pony rides," he said. "We have some friends who are going to meet us here and then we're going to wander awhile and look at things."

The kids, ages 9, 7, 3 and 11 months, who waiting patiently for their turns to ride, also planned on eating "something blackberry…probably ice cream," their dad said.

At the Diaper Changing Booth, Pam Delatorre, of Bremerton, sat in the shade, waiting patiently for business.

The booth was the brainstorm of Pastor Kevin Clancey's wife, Jill, of the Firehouse Church of Bremerton.

"They came here from California and their church there would do this at community festivals," Delatorre said. "We decided to try it, just as a community service."

With extra supplies on hand -- in just case -- there was a playpen and a changing table where parents of babies and toddlers could get out of the sun and change their children. And just across from the booth, a large garbage can.

"We've got everything we need right here," she said. "And we also want to invite people to join us at our services."

The church meets at 11 a.m. Sundays at the Sons of Norway, 1018 18th St., Bremerton.

The group hopes to expand to be at more Kitsap County festivals next year.

Next door at the face painting booth, Ella Podeszwa, 7, and her mother Melissa, of Auburn , were busy having their faces changed into beautiful butterflies, complete with glitter.

"My mother lives in Poulsbo," said Melissa Podeszwa. "We wanted to find a festival to go to this weekend, so we decided to see what Blackberry Festival was all about. We're having a great time."

On the boardwalk, merchants such as John Glasser, displayed artwork.  Glasser's art could best be described as recycling old wine, gin and rum bottles into something useful.

"It's just something I started doing at home as a hobby," said Glasser, of Ryderwood, speaking of the glass wind chimes he makes. 'Now it's a hobby on steroids."

The retired woodworker and cabinet maker uses glass specialty tools to cut bottles into wind chimes. His designs are his own, not copied from anything he's seen elsewhere.

He gets the bottles from friends and a couple of bars in Centralia and Chehalis near his home.

"I call them my "Bottle Angels," he said.

But his work is something more than just a way to pass the time. It's a way to recycle old bottles.

"It keeps them out of the landfill," he said. "And it's making a statement. I'm trying to get people to think about the ways that they can reuse things and keep the environment clean."

His chimes sell from $40 to $100, and his work can be viewed at

Among those walking the festival on Saturday was Mayor Patty Lent. Lent said she thought more people were out earlier on Saturday to avoid the heat.

"It's suppose to be 85 degree in the shade later on today," she said. "The crowds are great. I think we're got more people that I can remember in past years."

Lent was looking forward to hearing Jr. Cadillac later on on Saturday.

"I'm heading home to get my husband and then we'll be back to hear the music," she said.














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