On Stage


A picture-perfect party


What: Sh'Bang! A Festival of Ideas

Where: Lookout Arts Quarry, 246 Old Hwy. 99 N.


WHEN: Sept. 6-8

Cost: $25-$160

Info: http://www.shbangfest.com

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Last week, after perusing hundreds of photos of past Sh’Bang! events, I was left with a few conclusions about the late-summer gathering that, early every September, fills the Lookout Arts Quarry near Alger with all manner of entertainment and enticements.

First off,  I observed that those who choose to attend the “Festival of Ideas” at the former rock quarry seem to be just as likely to have a good time if the rain is falling as they are if the sun is showering them with rays. If the weather’s not ideal, attendees simply dance in the mud, don rain jackets to watch or participate in the offroad downhill soapbox derby—the gravity-powered race that was the genesis for the inaugural Sh’Bang! 12 years ago—and still show up in droves to support the performers who work around the clock to entertain and enlighten the masses.

I also took note of the wide grins that were plastered on the mugs of many of the children who have joined their parents over the years to explore the magic to be found within the 40 forested acres located just 15 minutes from Bellingham. Whether they’re hanging out at the creative kids’ zone known as Harmonious Hollow—a volunteer-run space that includes an innovative playground, music-making toys, costumes, bubbles, face-painting, workshops and a napping area—swimming in the shallow end of the quarry’s private lake, or perched atop their parents’ shoulders to watch a mesmerizing aerial act, it’s clear they’re having the time of their young lives. 

The final line item that stuck with me was the jaw-dropping array of happenings that span the three days of the festival—which this year takes place Fri.-Sun., Sept. 6-8. Sh’Bang may have started with a soapbox derby, but the add-ons of local and internationally renowned circus artists, musicians, DJs, interactive events and far beyond have made it necessary to hunker down for the weekend in order to take it all in.

In addition to this year’s art installations, workshops, carnival games, wood-fired sauna, trapeze zip line into the lake, waterslide, puppet shows, storytelling, 100-plus live bands and genre-defying performances happening throughout seven themed zones on five stages, a few surprises are still in store.

Some highlights to expect include parades led by the Chaotic Noise Marching Corps, swimming in the quarry to the music of Baby Gramps, superstar punk troubadour Jason Webley’s floating Flotsam River Circus, an all-star Saturday-night circus featuring performers from around the globe, High Step Society’s dance-inspiring electro swing, Parts Per Million’s aerial pinata pandemonium, Sunday’s Aquatic Circus on the Water, and a raucous late-night neo-burlesque cabaret sandwiched between sets by Intuitive Compass, Hot Damn Scandal, and Three for Silver.

To find out what other astonishments await you, make your way to the Lookout Arts Quarry in the coming days. Dress for the weather, and be prepared to make memories for your own photo album.

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