An edible exploration

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

“Are you as excited for the next SeaFest as I am?” my first mate queried recently.

“For the record, it’s called SeaFeast,” I replied, reminding him that I’d had to make the same correction numerous times during last year’s festivities, when we spent a sunny September afternoon at Squalicum Harbor slurping briny bivalves prepared in front of us by reps from Drayton Harbor Oyster Company, polishing off a plate of traditionally fire-pit grilled coho salmon perfectly executed by Lummi Nation chefs, sipping cold beer while watching other members of the tribe bring culture alive through the power of dance, sampling bite-sized gifts sourced from the salty sea, perusing aquatically inspired art and generally enjoying a fine day on the bay.

“And hell yes, I’m excited about it,” I added for good measure.

While I’m well aware the third annual Bellingham SeaFeast hosted by the City of Bellingham is designed in large part to showcase the area’s maritime heritage and the fishing-related industries that make for a working waterfront, I can’t deny I’m strongly drawn to the “unsurpassed culinary bounty” element of the two-day festival happening Sept. 21-22 at Zuanich Point Park and beyond.

This year, in addition to the delicious offerings already mentioned—plus a whole lot more—attendees can also procure tickets for Friday night’s “SeaFeed at the Harbor” happening in the parking lot outside the Squalicum Boathouse. A crab feed will be the focus of the evening, and additional meal selections can be purchased on site.

Come Saturday, “Taste the Sea: A Sustainable Seafood Experience” takes place inside the boathouse. For $20, you can sample a wide variety of seafood sourced from brands known for their sustainable practices in harvesting, processing and distribution, and an extra $10 nets you an optional wine pairing.

I advise you to purchase more tickets than you think you’ll need for food court fare, as last year’s crowds grew quickly—as did the lines. Other hints include riding bikes or walking from downtown to avoid parking issues, wearing layers that will enable you to either cool down or warm up, and setting aside plenty of time for non-food-related events.

In addition to performances and music from the likes of Swing Connection, Lummi Nation Black Hawk Singers and Dancers, Bridge Orville Johnson, Ray Troll and the Ratfish Wranglers, and headliners Baby Cakes, Saturday’s happenings also include a herring toss, art exhibits, vendor displays, wooden toy boat-making, activities for kids, an oyster shuck-and-slurp contest, and more.

Those interested in making SeaFeast a two-day celebration should keep Fri., Sept. 21 open, as plenty of events will also be happening in downtown Bellingham. At 4pm, stop by Waypoint Park to watch 11-person Lummi Nation canoes arrive, and then meander to Maritime Heritage Park at 5pm for a welcoming by Mayor Kelli Linville, violinist and storyteller Swil Kanim, and others.

At 7:30pm, Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall will host an opening celebration,“Across the Sea,” with music by the Bellingham Chamber Chorale honoring the people of Whatcom County,  including the original Lhaq’temish inhabitants, the “People of the Sea,” and a wide diversity of immigrant groups.

For $5, “FisherPoets on Bellingham Bay” will see four venues—the Sylvia Center’s two theaters, Boundary Bay Brewery, and Honey Moon—feature words of wisdom from those who have lived the seafaring life. At 9pm, celebrated artist, author and musician Ray Troll will also make an appearance with his band. 

In short, if you can’t find something to do or eat during Bellingham SeaFest—I mean SeaFeast—you’re not looking very hard. 

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