Summer’s End

Music + Arts

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Summer’s End Music + Arts Gathering is a pretty cool event. It marries music, art, dancing, giant board games and more together to create an experience that not only engages attendees, but also encourages attendees to engage with each other. It’s decidedly community-minded, but not preachy about it. It’s proudly local and looks to celebrate this region, its artistic bounty and its beauty. In short, there’s a lot to like about Summer’s End.

And yet, for the first two years of its existence, I found myself harboring a strange and wholly unwarranted mental block concerning the one-day festival. So, in order to get to the bottom of my imaginary mystery angst, I sussed out last year’s iteration, which took place at Maritime Heritage Park.

Even though the 2017 Summer’s End had to contend with a chilly, gray day, the windbreaker-clad attendees didn’t seem to mind. Nor did the bands, artists, organizers or volunteers. Music was being played, art was being created, the aforementioned giant board games were seeing a lot of use and silent disco participants were dancing blissfully to music only they could hear. As I meandered in and around the various components that comprise this multidisciplinary spectacle, I noticed that despite Summer’s End’s size and variety, the vibe remained low key, laid back and welcoming.

As I said, a lot to like. And then I realized my issue had to do with the name. Summer’s End. It’s a good name. Simple. Easy to remember, hard to misspell. It’s only crime is that it reminds me of something I like to remain in complete denial of for longer than is probably prudent.

Luckily for me, this year’s Summer’s End happens Sat., Aug. 17, well before the season it’s named for calls it quits, meaning the name is now more moniker than harbinger.

But that’s not the only thing that’s different in 2018. For the first time, Summer’s End is a ticketed event—as in, not free—because that’s what happens when a good idea’s ambitions outpace its resources. As with most such similar local enterprises, organizers hope to keep the cost to the public as low as possible—a full-price ticket to Summer’s End is $25—so volunteer opportunities abound for those lacking the requisite monetary resources.

The other change is the location. For the first time, Summer’s End will take place at Zuanich Point Park, which is being rented out by the Port of Bellingham for the occasion. I will say that I have what is best described as some complicated feelings about a public park being closed to the public for a private event, but those opinions are best reserved for my Port Commissioners. All Summer’s End wants to do is throw a party and show everyone a good time—and if you’re going to stage a something with a local focus that celebrates the many different forms of beauty this area has to offer, Zuanich Point Park is pretty much the perfect place to do so.

The centerpiece of the sprawling, multifaceted affair is music (as it should be), and in that regard you’ll find Hibou; Mr. Feelgood & the Firm Believers; Marshall Law Band; Guayaba; Club Mage; Hello, I’m Sorry; Porch Cat; and a DJ set by Mostafa. But don’t forget about the silent disco (I’d explain, but it’s way more fun not to), where Underground Transmissions, Lotus Drops, Squanch, Korra the Kid, Heirz, Shadow Variable, Episcool, Prongs, Sweekends, Dub Ja Vu, and James Gatz will offer up the soundtrack and all who are interested will provide the movement.

As well, artists of many different disciplines and genres will be creating paintings and pieces on the spot, and one of the more compelling parts of my stroll through Summer’s End was watching their process and admiring their focus as they did work in public that they would normally undertake in a studio or other more private setting. As well, local businesses will participate in ways more innovative than simply ponying up sponsorship dollars or in-kind trade. Camber will host a pop-up coffee shop, Vital Climbing Gym will erect a climbing wall, Backcountry Essentials is going to hang some hammocks and invite people to chill, and Tito’s Vodka—one of the event’s presenting sponsors—will erect a temporary dog park for your furry friends. And that’s far from all you’ll find.

As part of their mission to support community beyond providing an avenue for imagination, escapism and entertainment, proceeds from the beer garden at Summer’s End will benefit three different local nonprofits, and some of the on-the-spot works of art created that day will be auctioned off at a September event, with funds going to a cause or charity of each artist’s choice.

As mentioned above, it’s easy to find something—or many things—to like about Summer’s End. Just don’t hold their name against them.

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