Since 2006 the little City of Bainbridge Island has been rocking the north end of the island with the Bainbridge Island Bluegrass Festival. If you’ve been to Bainbridge, you realize that bluegrass would be pretty much at the bottom of the list if someone asked you what type of music people there listen to. At least it would be at the bottom of my list, so I was surprised last year when I was asked to volunteer at the festival. I had no idea it even existed, but now that I do, I don’t want to miss it.
The first cool thing is the location: Battle Point Park. It’s 90 acres of grassy fields, playing fields and a duck pond. Trails circle the park and there’s an amazing playground that was built by the community and features ferry-themed playhouses, musical games and a bunch more stuff that I couldn’t play on because it was full of kids. There’s also an astronomy center and the Battle Point Astronomical Association
opens it to tours during the festival. The festival takes place in a natural amphitheater next to the Astronomy Center.
The next great thing is the music
. It’s a mix of the serious banjo-fiddle-toe-tappin’ bluegrass and more mainstream country. The show is opened by the local clogging group. No, not the plumbers, a group of ladies who love this style of dance that can be known as flatfooting or jigging, depending on where you live. In between the bands the emcee tells stories and entertains the crowds while the next group gets set up. There’s about ten hours of music and it’s followed up by jam sessions. Yep, people bring their own instruments and hang out behind the astronomy building, making their own music. As the sun starts to go down, the fiddles heat up and for some people, that’s when the festival really starts.
Now we get to the animals. Not the pets that people bring in, although those are usually friendly, but the unusual animals that are brought in to show off. Last year a couple brought all their snakes to give kids and the curious a chance to meet a reptile. I spent an hour with a snoozing snake draped across my shoulder, head tucked into my hair. This year it was a parade of greyhounds to highlight the adoption of greyhounds once they’ve outlived their racing potential.
And It's A Benefit!
And perhaps the best part of all – the whole thing is a fundraiser. Every year the BIBF chooses family-oriented charities to support and this year it was PAWS of Bainbridge and North Kitsap. PAWS is all about animals and they do some great things. PAWS of BI is just cats and one of mine is a rescue of theirs.
The entire event is just a great way to spend the day. Lots of families show up early to spread their blanket on the lawn and just hang out enjoying music. When the kids get tired of being in one place you can head for an open field or walk over to that awesome play set. The ducks are a long walk away, but they’d probably appreciate some treats if you decide to visit them.