On Stage

Festival of Ideas

Ending summer with a Sh’Bang

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Meteorologically speaking, this coming weekend is expected to dazzle.

If all goes according to plan, daytime temperatures will be warm enough for those who refuse to give up on tank tops, shorts and flip-flops until the first frost to continue to don their seasonal attire, yet cool enough at night that socks (or long johns) might become a necessity.

The fair-weather forecast bodes well for the organizers of the eighth annual “Sh’Bang! A Festival of Ideas,” which is set to take place Fri.-Sun., Sept. 11-13 at the Lookout Arts Quarry, located 10 minutes south of Bellingham on Old Highway 99.

Per usual, the three-day event defies succinct categorization.

The first Sh’Bang! was easy enough to explain; on the second-to-last weekend of the summer of 2007, those residing at the center for circus arts and sustainable living hosted an off-road soapbox derby at the former rock quarry.

Eight years later, the arts collective has expanded and approximately 1,000 attendees are expected to show up to experience the talents of more than 28 live bands, 45 performances and enough interactive experiences to keep both adults and kids busy.

Those who haven’t visited the “festival of ideas” before may be wondering if they’re attending a music gathering, a circus or an off-the-grid immersive camping experience. The truth of the matter is, it’s all of above.

While the music (everyone from Hot Damn Scandal to the Free Range Revelers to the Sky Colony, Mr. Moo, Cobra Wolf Shark, and more) and the theatrical spectacles (Odds Are, Emergency Circus, Inflammable Circus, Lost and Found Puppet Co., Leapin’ Louie etc.) are worth the price of admission on their own, it’s the creative accoutrements that will be taking place throughout the weekend that also attract revelers to the scene.

For example, the Daredevil Downhill Soapbox Derby going down at noon on Saturday is still a big draw, with prizes awarded in categories including “costumes,” “spectacular crash” and “creative engineering.” (Racers must be willing to sign waivers stating they, “their relatives, friends and pet tarantulas” forgo any claims against Lookout Arts, so don’t balk when it comes time to jump in your jalopy.)

Additional attractions on the lineup include dancing, swimming, a giant puppet parade, a trapeze zip line, interactive theme camps, carnival games, shadow art, exploding aerial pinatas, aquatic puppetry, visits with mermaids, pirates and aliens, and a whole bunch of surprises.

Sh’Bang! will happen whether it rains or shines, so you might want to pack an umbrella when putting together your weekend supplies. Then, even if it’s sunny and hot, you’ll have ready-made shade.

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