Ski to Sea

For you and me

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Although the racecourse itself has undergone some rerouting due to the nearly nonexistent snowpack in the mountains (climate change is real, folks), Ski to Sea soldiers on with all the pluck, creativity and dogged determination the event has shown since its inception some 40 years ago.

Which is a good thing, not just because the multi-stage race has become a highlight and hallmark of our community, participated in and watched by thousands every year, but also because with Ski to Sea come Ski to Sea celebrations.

I think it has been well established around these parts that the only thing we love as much as a community race is a community party to celebrate that race.

In past years, it seemed that nearly every venue in town had some sort of Memorial Day/Ski to Sea weekend blowout taking place, but times and entertainment trends change, and these days the events are fewer in number, but what they lack in quantity, they make up for in other ways.

For many years now, when we look to celebrate just about anything, we’ve looked to Boundary Bay Brewery to throw us a party—and the brewpub rarely disappoints. As of this week, the beer garden—a harbinger of summer for locals, transplanted locals and newcomers alike—is open and the potent pints are flowing.

Coincidentally, Boundary’s beer garden also happens to be the place for a couple of events that bookend the Ski to Sea festivities. The first, which begins at 5pm Fri., May 22, is a newish annual happening, the Ski to Sea Community Block Party. The family-friendly gathering features games, raffle prizes and other giveaways, and various other elements that combine to form a fun outing. Music is, of course, an important piece of this, and will come courtesy of a band that, like Boundary, is also be beloved local institution, the Atlantics. Best of all, engaging in this community revelry will cost you nothing, although you’d be well-advised to indulge in a pint (or three) of the beer (or the house-brewed root beer for those members of the family who aren’t yet of age) that is the brewpub’s reason for being. As they so often do, Boundary has brewed something especially for the occasion, and a limited run of Ski to Sea ESB will be on tap and flowing strong.

But if you miss your chance at that particular party, Boundary will offer you redemption just a couple of days later when they play host to a Ski to Sea barbecue that takes place Sun., May 24. Intended to be a decidedly lower-key affair than the Community Block Party, this is the place to go when you don’t feel like cooking dinner and wouldn’t mind a wander through downtown Bellingham with a stop to slake your thirst in the always-welcoming beer garden. The barbecues heat up at 4pm; at 7pm Fence-Fire will show up to provide a soundtrack of live music, and if you happen to be there and still hungry after 8pm, Boundary will even cook you a pizza.

But Boundary Bay isn’t home to the only Ski to Sea beer garden in town. And the other one can be found at a place that has also earned status as a much-loved local mainstay.

To find this fun, you’ll have to do as the Ski to Sea racers do and take yourself to Fairhaven. This is where the finish line is located and is also the place where you’ll find the Historic Fairhaven Festival, an event that kicks off at 10am Sun., May 24 and runs all day, drawing thousands of people, consuming much of the Southside and causes a traffic nightmare for anyone foolish enough to try and drive or park anywhere near the heart of Fairhaven or its surrounding side streets (hot tip: the Whatcom Transportation Authority provides ample shuttle opportunities. Take advantage of them. Trust me on this).

Of course, this is the party that used to be known as It All Ends in Fairhaven, an apocalyptic-sounding name that I took great glee in writing about every year, which, now that I think of it, might have been a contributor to its name being changed to the much more benign Historic Fairhaven Festival.

Regardless of what it’s called, the event remains much the same. Music happens all day long on two stages, and such bands as Spaceband, Nashville Northwest, Divas and Dudes, Up from the Ashes, and more will be working hard to entertain you mightily. Along with the ample supply of music will be an equally ample supply of foodstuffs, at a variety of different booths. And it wouldn’t be the It All Ends at the Historic Fairhaven Festival without the beer and wine garden, which I’m told will feature unique entertainment all its own. The entertainment is free, the food and drink are not, the bus is a dollar. Feel free to make a day of it.

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