Arts & Entertainment Community

Festival moves to Sehmel as part of arts-in-the-parks pact

Posted on July 3rd, 2024 By:

PenMet Parks’ recent partnership efforts include an alliance announced on April 2 with Peninsula Art League that among other benefits features the move of the Summer Art Festival from downtown Gig Harbor to Sehmel Homestead Park.

PAL staged the popular event on Judson Street for 37 years. It attracted more than 10,000 visitors over the 2023 weekend. The move to a larger venue enables the festival to accommodate more artists, vendors and attendees.

“We are very excited about it, excited to be a partner,” PenMet Executive Director Ally Bujacich said during a board study session Tuesday at parks district headquarters where staff described the district’s partnership efforts.

Peninsula Art League President Colette Smith and PenMet Parks Executive Director Ally Bujacich.

Peninsula Art League President Colette Smith, left, and PenMet Parks Executive Director Ally Bujacich at Sehmel Homestead Park, new site of the Summer Art Festival. Photo courtesy of Peninsula Art League.

“We’re excited about our relationship with PenMet Parks and are looking forward to the ‘Celebration of Creativity’ and fun for everyone at this year’s festival,” Bill Wachtler, head of communications and marketing for Peninsula Art League, said Wednesday.

Art festival set for July 20-21

The festival will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 20, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 21. It will feature up to 140 artists showcasing every imaginable medium — from painters and sculptors to photographers, potters, jewelry designers, glass and fiber artists, and authors in Volunteer Vern Pavilion.

The free event will also include a kids’ corner and playground, local flower vendors, a beer garden featuring Gig Harbor Brewing and 7 Seas Brewing, music by DJ Ice Mike, and food from Kettle Korn, Millville Pizza, Kona Ice, Pink Gorilla, BBQ2U and Stacks Burgers. Proceeds support $12,000 in art scholarships for local students.

Free shuttle service will bring attendees to the festival from Gig Harbor High School and Franciscan Health Medical Pavilion on Kimball Drive.

The partnership extends beyond the festival. A memorandum of understanding will provide the parks district and PAL each with $55,000 in annual value, PenMet Director of Development Tracy Stirrett said Tuesday.

PAL will install, curate and manage public artwork at PenMet facilities and parks, including the community recreation center, Sehmel Homestead Park and one outdoor park property. The art will be available for public purchase. PenMet will provide PAL gathering space for four art meetings, eight workshops and 10 board meetings each year. PAL is procuring artwork for a six-month juried public exhibit at parks district headquarters in September that’s open to Washington state artists. Peninsula Art League will provide volunteers for PenMet Parks’ art programming.

Partnership increases opportunities

“PenMet Parks is a valuable community asset and a wonderful steward of beautiful parks, trails and gathering spaces,” Peninsula Art League President Colette Smith said when the partnership was announced in April. “Peninsula Art League is very pleased to collaborate with such a strong community partner to increase opportunities for our community to gather, play and create.”

“We recognize our growing community needs more park and recreation opportunities, including access to art,” Bujacich said in the same press release. “We are delighted to partner with Peninsula Art League to enhance the services each organization currently provides that benefit our community.”

The change of venue will shift thousands of people away from downtown during a busy summer weekend.

“I think it’s exciting how the art festival is growing,” said Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Miriam Battson. “We look forward to seeing how it does this year.” She declined to comment on how downtown businesses received the change.

Carrianne Ekberg, executive director of the Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance, was unavailable to comment. The group’s Chalk the Harbor event is July 20, the first day of the art festival.

A scene from a previous year of the Peninsula Art League’s Summer Art Festival. Photo by Charlee Glock-Jackson

Other partnerships

PenMet staff updated the board on its other partnerships Tuesday. Among the longer-running ones, Kiwanis club members frequently attend PenMet events and collect food and donations to feed the hungry. The two will team up for American Red Cross blood drives in August, October and December. A planned new alliance with Aktion Club will support and foster relationships within the local special needs community.

PenMet has collaborated with Tom Taylor Family YMCA to provide 152 community swim vouchers so far in 2024 with a total of more than 250 projected by the end of the year. They’re working to host swimming events, and team up on Night To Shine proms for those with special needs.

With Harbor WildWatch, which became a partner on May 16, PenMet provided Arletta Schoolhouse for volunteer training, participated in a recent weeklong Salish Sea Scientist Camp and provides sites for summer beach monitoring.

School district pact formalized

PenMet and Peninsula School District have worked together for several years, and formalized the arrangement on June 4 to “maximize public access to public-owned facilities and serve more efficiently,” Bujacich said. Their first focus is providing a free mobile drop-in rec summer program at three elementary schools for kids 3 to 12 years old beginning July 23.

“We know there are underserved areas of the parks district without access. One of our goals is to mitigate the barrier to access,” said Bujacich, noting schools are spread out all over. “It’s a good example of the way partnerships can impact the community. The partnership will maximize community access and position us to be more responsive to community needs.”

The budget to renovate the old mini golf course was raised from $80,000 to $600,000.

The budget to renovate the old mini golf course was raised from $80,000 to $600,000. Photo by Ed Friedrich

During their regular board meeting after the study session, the commissioners approved funding to repave the road to Narrows Park and increased the renovation budget for the mini golf course at the community recreation center.

Narrows Park paving deal awarded

The board authorized Executive Director Bujacich to contract Lakeridge Paving Co. to grind deteriorating asphalt and repave the Narrows Park access road, install four speed bumps and paint a double yellow line down the middle for $290,000. The Auburn company was the lone bidder. The work must be completed by Sept. 30. No start date has been set. The park will close during construction.

The district will separately bid maintenance on the stormwater ditches alongside the road and replacement of 12 sections of guard rail.

Mini golf course budget increased

The board also heard the first reading of a resolution to increase the budget for community recreation center mini golf course upgrades from $80,000 to $600,000. PenMet will pay the bill using $100,000 appropriated but unspent for deferred maintenance in 2022 and 2023, through fundraising and capital reserves. The updates are planned to be completed in conjunction with the rec center opening in 2025.

The commissioners discussed options for the mini golf course renovation during May 17 and June 18 study sessions, including restoring components that are at or beyond the end of their useful life and an enhanced user experience. Staff recommended an expanded scope of work that includes:

  • Remove and replace fairway carpet.
  • Restore power to outlets and lighting.
  • Restore irrigation system.
  • Clean and restore water feature (replace pumps).
  • Upgrade turf to putting green-grade product.
  • Add additional lighting for evening play and convert lighting to LED.
  • Provide up to 10 themed elements.
  • Provide themed fences and benches.
  • Upgrade landscape to align with theme.
  • Provide themed signage.
  • Provide kiosk for customer service and course management.
  • Design fees.
Historic Rosedale Hall has reopened for programming and rental after renovation.

Historic Rosedale Hall has reopened for programming and rental after renovation. Photo courtesy of PenMet Parks

Rosedale Hall reopens

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Bujacich reported that Rosedale Hall has reopened. Contractors completed a $1.5 million renovation on time. The community center, built in 1932, is now available for programming and rental.

Design work began in September 2023, followed by construction. The building closed during construction. The project upgraded vintage electrical wiring, heating/air conditioning, hot water and plumbing systems. It also replaced the roof replaced, relocated restrooms added an ADA-compliant ramp and applied fresh paint. PenMet plans a ribbon-cutting ceremony for September.

The playground at Sehmel Homestead Park also has reopened. It closed from June 18 to July 2 to replace worn tile surfacing installed in 2008. Poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing replaced the tile. The cost was $230,000. The new surface should last at least 10 years.

Bujacich also announced that Tubby’s Trail Dog Park on 14th Avenue will close for construction from July 15 through Oct. 30. Improvements will include ADA-accessible parking, a new ADA trail, rain garden and storm drainage. Rotary Bark Park on Bujacich Road is an alternative.