An Eerie Invitation: Music and monsters at the Guemes Island General Store

Guemes Island General Store

7885 Guemes Island Rd.


(360) 293-4548

There’s an eeriness to this night. Is it the clouds slowly creeping across the bright fall moon? Is it the wind that frantically whips the leaves around the empty streets only to stop suddenly, as if calmed by an unknown force? Is it that your kids have hardly argued with you all day?

It’s hard to say, but the chill running down your spine as you apply the finishing touches of makeup to complete your zombie pirate costume lets you know something’s brewing. You gather the kids and the husband—a whole family of zombie pirates—and leave the house, headed out into this dark, mysterious night.

There are many ghoulish creatures assembled at the Guemes Ferry at 6th Street and I Avenue in Anacortes—genies, fairy queens, robots, super heroes and perhaps unknown mortal beings in masks. Seagulls circle overhead, squawking and calling. Or are they warning?

It’s time to load. You follow the parade of alter-egos down the ramp. The salty sea mist tickles your face. You can’t quite see across the Guemes Channel. It’s dark and a thick fog bank is rolling through. But, there’s a force on the other side beckoning you across. The kids beg you to ride outside, so you oblige.

The ferry punctures the fog bank in the middle of the channel and everyone is surrounded in a cloud of mist. The eeriness returns. You’re on a ghost ship. For a moment you’ve disappeared. As you emerge from the fog you see the lights of the Guemes Island General Store. You laugh at yourself for getting caught up in the moment. Now it’s time for some real fun.

As you and the family of pirate zombies walk among the crowd of costumed folks from the ferry to the store, you can already hear the music spilling out the front door. The furious strum of the banjo, the rhythmic beat of the drum, honey-sweet vocals. It’s your favorite local band, Kuinka.

This is why you’re here, to see them perform. Well, that and a Halloween costume party on Guemes seemed too good to pass up. That eerie feeling you had is replaced by anticipation of good times ahead.

Walking in the front door of the friendly Guemes Island Store, you instantly feel infected with excitement. You’re among friends you didn’t even know you had. Smiles are pasted across the faces of cowboys, werewolves, political figures, fairies, cartoon characters, hobos, skeletons. Batman is dancing with Cinderella. You, the husband and the kids are swept up into the crowd, swaying, clapping hands, whistling and stomping. It’s a hootenanny!

You take a break between sets and stuff yourselves full of homemade delights. There’s a ceramic skull wrapped in cured Italian meats, finger-shaped sandwiches and salsa coming out of a carved jack-o-lantern. It’s all so festive and delicious. You sit at a table with some Guemes locals, chatting like you’ve known each other for years. It’s true what you’ve heard: Guemes is a good place to be, and this store is the perfect place to spend an evening.

After another hour of dancing, singing and laughing while watching Kuinka give it everything they’ve got, it’s time to get the kids home, and you spot the lights of the ferry crossing the channel. As you board and once again disappear into the fog bank, you can’t help thinking back through the night. That. Was. Awesome. Was it the band? The food? The people? The place? That eerie feeling creeps back up your spine, and gives you a momentary shiver. Something great just happened, and you kind of can’t wait until it happens again.

Copy provided by the Guemes Island General Store

Join the freakish Halloween fun happening at the Guemes Island General Store (7885 Guemes Island Rd.) starting at 6pm Sat., Oct. 28. Kuinka will be playing two boot-stomping, hand clapping sets beginning at 6:30pm, followed by costume contests for kids and adults with fantastic prizes. Tickets are $5 (with costume) to $10 (without costume; kids under 12 are free). A dinner buffet of ghastly delights can be had for $6 for kids and $12 for adults. For more info:

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