Call them “uncanceled.” Or “third-time’s-the-charm.” Or simply “back!”
They’re the festivals, concerts, fund-raisers and other events returning this summer after being shut down by the pandemic for two years.
And each is a reason to celebrate.
Kicking off the Summer of Returns is the ever-popular Maritime Gig Festival, this year appropriately themed “Celebration.” The Gig takes place the first weekend in June along the downtown waterfront, from the history museum to Skansie Park.
Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, activities begin with yoga at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, June 4, and a pancake breakfast from 8-10 a.m. courtesy of the Kiwanis Club. A fun run and the Grande Gig Parade – with pirates, decorated floats and marching bands – round out the Saturday morning activities. Live music, food, kid stuff and booths promoting local businesses fills the afternoon.
Music starts back up at 10 a.m. Sunday and the Wheels on the Water car show opens at 11 a.m. The highlight of the day is the annual Blessing of the Fleet at 1 p.m., when the local commercial fishing boats gather near Skansie Park. A priest from St. Nicholas Catholic Church blesses them in preparation for their trip to the Alaska fishing grounds.
Several of the bands participating in the Grande Parade and playing on the Gig stage also have concerts planned in June.
The Peninsula Youth Orchestra will perform at Maritime Gig Festival and again in a spring concert on June 12 at Peninsula High School. Contributed photo
Harbor Winds Concert Band will join the parade Saturday. Then they celebrate their return to live, public performance on June 5 with a Young Artists concert at Gig Harbor High School. The concert will spotlight several middle school musicians and a cello performance by GHHS student Leah Everling.
Harbor Winds is part of the Narrows Music Society, which also includes small ensembles such as the Dixie Dusters Dixieland Band and the NMS Ceremonial Band (both playing at the Gig at noon Sunday). The Ceremonial Band also performs on Memorial Day and at other events, according to NMS board president Corey Berman. As is the case with most of the other upcoming music events, Harbor Winds concerts are free and open to the public.
The Gig Harbor High School band will march in the parade, then wrap up a nearly normal year of performances with a Jazz Night show on June 8 and the final concert June 9, both starting at 7 p.m. at the high school.
After a long hiatus, the Gig Harbor Peninsula Civic Orchestra will be back in live performance mode with a free concert June 11 at Peninsula High School. GHPCO, one of the area’s lesser-known artistic treasures, has been making music since 2004. Conductor Matthew Underwood, who also conducts the Peninsula Youth Orchestra, founded the orchestra.
The Peninsula Youth Orchestra will perform at the Maritime Gig at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 4. Their Spring Concert on June 12 will be their first full-scale public concert in two years. The concert takes place at 3 p.m. at Peninsula High School, according to PYO Executive Director Noelle Brambila. Admission is free and seating is first-come-first-served. PYO’s String Camp is also back this year, Aug. 15-19 at Agnus Dei Church on Peacock Hill.
The Gig Harbor Peninsula Civic Orchestra rehearses. Contributed photo
The city-sponsored Summer Sounds concert series returns to Skansie Park Tuesday, June 28, with Soul Searching, a cover band that plays hits by Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley. The series continues every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. through Aug. 30. The concerts are free; seating is first-come-first served. The city of Gig Harbor’s website has information about saving seats.
Monday Night Movies, sponsored by the Film Festival, are back at the Galaxy Theatres on the last Monday of each month. Most start at 6:30 p.m. according to Film Festival Executive Director Pam Holt.
The next movie, scheduled for May 30, is a special advance screening of “Small Town Wisconsin.” Award-winning director Niels Mueller will answer questions after the screening.
The festival’s fundraising auction is also back after a three-year hiatus on July 1 at Canterwood. Email [email protected] for details.
And the Film Festival itself returns Sept. 22-25, with 65 films, including documentaries, shorts and full-length features. Several of the documentaries have a Gig Harbor and Tacoma focus, Holt said.
The city-sponsored Movies in the Park are back at a new location. Every Friday in July, the city will show movies at Sehmel Homestead Park. The first is “Back to the Future” on July 1. Movies are free and most start at 8:30 p.m.
The Waterfront Farmers Market returns to Skanise Park starting Thursday, June 2, with locally-grown farm products and specialty foods. New vendor Chelsea Farms’ shellfish joins returning favorites like A Simpler Past’s produce and fresh baked bread, plus fresh-cut flowers, home-made ice cream, wood-fired pizza, berries, honey, crafts, key lime pie and more, per Waterfront Alliance Special Projects Coordinator Josh Sherwin. There will also be live music and cooking demos every week. Hours are 1–7 p.m. every Thursday through August.
The Garden Tour takes place June 25 and 26 after a two-year absence, with five gardens featured — including the Community Garden on Rosedale Street, three gardens on Fox Island and an encore appearance of the garden of one of the tour’s founders.
Funds from the Garden Tour support literacy programs in the Gig Harbor-Key Peninsula community. In 2019 – the last time the tour was held – grants totaling $22,260 went to Minter Creek Elementary School, Peninsula Pediatric Therapy, three Little Free Libraries in downtown Gig Harbor, the STEM program at Voyager Elementary and to Olalla Elementary School’s outdoor education program, according to tour director Jan Reeder.
The tour also funded writing materials for Curious by Nature Preschool and for the pioneer classroom at the Harbor History Museum, new technology for the Harbor Heights Elementary School library and supported middle school girls attending a summer technology camp, she said.
In 2020, tour organizers dipped into their rainy day funds to help several organizations continue through the pandemic.
Peninsula Art League’s annual Summer Art Festival returns to downtown Gig Harbor July 16 and 17 after two years of COVID-induced cancellations. The free festival features more than 100 artists and craftspeople. Food trucks, kids activities and a Literary Corner with local authors, poets and illustrators are also part of the fun.
A scene from a previous year of the Peninsula Art League’s Summer Art Festival. Charlee Glock-Jackson
There will also be a display of artwork by PAL members in the lobby of Timberland Bank on Judson Street.
“We’re very excited to bring the festival back after being cancelled for two years,” PAL President Colette Smith said. “Times have been difficult and it seems that COVID isn’t done with us yet, but this is a time to appreciate and embrace the arts, because the arts promote wellness in our daily lives and bring us together as a community.”
Funds from the festival provide art scholarships for local high school graduates and for PAL members, and also support other arts events for the community.
Free shuttle service will take attendees from the medical center parking lot on Kimball Drive to the festival site.
Glass floats on display at the Summer Art Festival. Charlee Glock-Jackson.
Chalk the Harbor also takes place Saturday, July 16, on Harborview Drive. The Downtown Waterfront Alliance provides the chalk for this family-friendly event, and artistic talent is not required. Just the desire to grab a bucket of chalk and decorate the downtown sidewalks with chalk art, Sherwin said.
Two of Harbor History Museum’s most popular “events”– the Midway School field trips and History Rocks – are back, according to Stephanie Lile, the museum’s executive director.
The school is already booked Thursdays and Fridays for the rest of the school year. A few spots are open on other days. Midway School gives students a taste of what it was like to attend a one-room schoolhouse in the 1800s.
Students learn what it was like to attend a one-room schoolhouse at Harbor History Museum’s Midway School. Charlee Glock-Jackson
History Rocks – the museum’s big annual fundraiser, is also back – with Jr. Cadillac providing the entertainment.
“We’re hoping that the third time is a charm, as this will be the third year we’ve booked Jr. Cadillac for a concert in the museum lot. Twice we’ve had to cancel. But they’ve always said yes to coming back,” Lile said. “We’re thrilled to make their 2022 gig list and bring this incredible, legendary group of musicians to Gig Harbor for the first time … ever.”
In mid-September, the Gig Harbor Open Studio Tour returns in full force as 16 artists in Gig Harbor, Fox Island, Key Peninsula and South Kitsap open their studios to the public. Several of the studios also host guest artists. In all, 23 artists are showing their work. The self-guided tour is free.
Also in September, the Asia Pacific Cultural Center brings back ChuSeok, the Korean celebration of the Harvest Moon. The free event at Skansie Park features food, games and entertainment.
Harbor WildWatch will resume its guided beach walks this summer in collaboration with the KGI Watershed group. The schedule will be posted on the WildWatch website soon.
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