On Stage


A very bright idea


Some people calmly accept the inevitable end of summer with a shrug and go on with their lives. Others, not so much.

Those who take part in the annual “Sh’Bang!” gathering at the Lookout Arts Quarry every September most definitely fall into the latter camp.

Not only do the organizers and attendees of the “Festival of Ideas” embrace the remaining days of summer, they do just about everything in their power to hang on to the waning days of the season of sun.

In fact, the event crams so many different activities into three days, it’s hard to know where to start when approaching the topic of what you should do with yourself at the picturesque locale—which is described by organizers as a “post-industrial land restoration project complete with wetlands and a pristine stadium-sized rainwater lake.”

For those who haven’t heard of Sh’Bang!, it’s probably helpful to delineate whether the gathering taking place approximately 10 minutes from Bellingham proper is a performing arts showcase, a music festival, an outdoor art space, a place for exploration of the recreational kind, a family-friendly gathering or a last chance to get some camping in before the nights grow chillier.

The answer, if you haven’t guessed, is all of the above.

“Influenced by the circus-minded artists who manage the quarry, Sh’Bang! is a festival of ideas that raises funds for quarry projects while providing a space for radical community inclusion through spontaneous artistic exploration,” organizer Clay “Mazing” Letson says.

The artistic exploration Letson speaks of is manifold, and creativity is at the center of pretty much every item on the bursting-at-the-seams menu.

Starting at 4pm Friday afternoon and continuing until late afternoon Sunday, the Lookout Arts Quarry will take on the music festival role by playing host to a slew of live bands from both near and far (Br’er Rabbit, Yogoman Burning Band, Bee Bones, Deakin Hicks , the Murtles, Hot Damn Scandal, etc.).

Circus artists will also get their due with a variety of performances, including shows by smokin’ hot talents of the Inflammable Circus, sideshow master Justin Credible, the Emergency Circus, and more.

In addition to the staged events, part of the fun of Sh’Bang! is figuring out what you want to do in between the viewing of shows.

For sure, you’ll want to schedule time to watch the Soapbox Derby, a downhill, offroad affair complete with a costume contest, careening gravity-powered vehicles designed for speed, and prizes for everything from “slowest time” to “fastest time” to “spectacular crash.”

Other items of note to be aware of when it comes time to plan your weekend: swimming, interactive theme camps, a kid’s zone, dancing, clay wrestling, parades, a zip line, carnival games, workshops, a flapjack feast, art trading posts, welding lessons, live painting and puppet shows.

No plan is also a good plan, meaning it’s probably a good idea to leave the rigors of the everyday world behind—including day planners—and simply see where the action takes you upon your arrival. If this weekend’s event is anything like previous Sh’Bangs, the best of summer may still be ahead of you.

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