Sunnyland Stomp

Creativity on every corner

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I haven’t needed to fill out a job application in awhile, but if I ever do so again, I’ll be sure and add “emceed chicken race” to the roster of my life’s arcane accomplishments.

That may sound silly, but when I showed up ready to oversee the action at the seventh annual Sunnyland Stomp a couple of summers ago, I soon learned the skills necessary to be successful at this venture would translate well for any employer seeking a new hire.

In addition to working well with others—including the colleague who was also promised “pie, beer and fame” to help direct the avian action from event founder Alice Clark—the temporary position required competent public speaking skills, improvisational insights about the feathered competitors and their keepers, and the ability to corral poultry.

Although the entertaining event was put on hold last year, I’m happy to report that the poultry palaver will return to this year’s Sunnyland Stomp starting at high noon Sat., July 15 at the neighborhood’s Memorial Park.

Trust me when I tell you a chicken race is the perfect way to kick off an afternoon and evening of playful creativity.  It’ll also be a good time to peruse the Sunnyland Stomp map—which can be downloaded in advance—and decide which of the 25 stops you’re interested in checking out from 3-9pm, when the event kicks into full gear.

As a past winner of Bellingham’s Mayor’s Arts Awards, art might be what you’re after when it comes to sussing out what’s happening in the front yards, backyards and various structures of those who will be opening up their spaces to the general public.

In that case, check off a visit to contemporary folk artist RR Clark’s home and perennially colorful Fishboy Gallery (617 Virginia St.) or drop by a Welding-Sculpture-Blowout featuring sculptures, car contraptions and, after dark, something called a “fire tornado” (317 E. Illinois St.). Onsite screen printing at Red Boots Design (2120 Grant St.), community art at Paint, Paper, Canvas (2412 Franklin St.), paintings and jewelry by designer Chelsea Jepson at Tide Lines North (116 Alabama St.), and paintings at Di Nitto’s Realm (615 Virginia St.) will also be among—but not limited to—the visually focused offerings.

Per usual, many of the stops defy categorization, leaving visitors to wonder whether they’re at an art gallery, an all-ages dance party, a foam sword soiree, a plant nursery, a pizza joint or a concert space (hint: in some cases, it’s more than one of those things). This year, a scavenger hunt geared toward young attendees will give them a chance to pick up tokens at each stop before collecting a prize.

“I’m really excited to see the community come together for this unique, creative event,” organizer and participant Erin Boyd says. “We’re looking forward to sharing art, food and fun times with all the visitors to our neighborhood.”

Although I haven’t been “hired” to emcee this year’s chicken race, it’s likely you’ll find me on the sidelines, where I’ll be prepared to fill the position in the event of fowl play.

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