Art in the Park promises “cornucopia of culture”

— Created June 8, 2022 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Art is all around us – one just has to look for it in all its many forms.

That, in essence, is what Art in the Park at Fort Casey State Park is all about. The free event, which takes place Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., is  a conglomeration of many different styles of art forms, ranging from music to dancing, from painting and basket weaving to chainsaw carving, from classic cars to pirates and from meditation to magic. Pretty much anything one can imagine will be on display for the whole family to experience. Again, the event is free, as is admission to Fort Casey, since it takes place on a Washington State Parks free admission day – no Discover Pass required.

Event coordinator, Therese Kingsbury, said one word sums up what makes this event so unique.

“Diversity. The diversity of who’s coming,” she said. “It’s not a craft fair – there’s not a lot to be sold – but there will be face painting, bubbles, free books…None of it adds up, but I think it all fits together somehow. I call it a cornucopia of culture.”

While a similar event was in the works in the months preceding the COVID shutdowns, Kingsbury said planning for this event was basically a matter of reaching out to people she knows.

“Every single participant is someone I have a personal relationship with – and they all said yes,” she shared enthusiastically. “Really, I’m just marching through life and everybody I encountered who I thought would be fun, I asked. And nobody said no!”

That response has provided an eclectic mix of all different kinds of art forms. JR Russell will be there to cast a spell with his magic; artists Lowell Sipes, Melissa Hand and Tim Haslet will provide demonstrations, as will basket weaver Regina Kastler; InMotion Company will have salsa and belly dancing demonstrations; there will be a chainsaw carving demonstration; and there will even a meditation demonstration by Sound Journey, to name just a few of the participants.

The Whidbey Island Pirates will make an appearance along with their “ship,” and there will even be a mini car show featuring the Majestic Glass Corvette Club.

“For me, I’m thinking of this as a dry run for what we could do for our own community, what we could do in Windjammer Park [in Oak Harbor] in the future,” Kingsbury said. “Also, since this is the first time, it will be interesting to see how people respond to the diversity of the experiences. Dads might dig the corvettes and parents in general will appreciate the hands-on activities for kids.”

Members of the Saratoga Orchestra will be there as well, to demonstrate instruments and perform in small groups and as soloists.

“It will be a pretty informal affair and a wide array of musical styles,” shared Larry Heidel, Saratoga Orchestra’s executive director. “We’ll even have a miniature version of our popular instrument petting zoo for all to try out a few instruments.”

Heidel said the musicians of Saratoga Orchestra love opportunities to share their passion for music.

“We’re hoping that we can spark a bit of curiosity to lead young people to explore more,” he said. “The arts should be accessible to all and we need to thank the organizers of events like this. It will be fun to see families out enjoying Fort Casey and having an interactive experience with the local arts community.”

Kingsbury said she thinks the community is ready to get out and try something new.

“It’s been long couple of years for all of us,” she said, adding “Art in the Park” is a relatively safe event because it’s all happening outdoors. “I think it’s also going to be unifying. People are going to be able to enjoy the park, all the way from the lighthouse to the bunker.”

For his part, Heidel said events like this can serve as a great showcase for all the talented artists on Whidbey Island.

“There should be no limits on creativity and we are lucky to have the chance to share our talents,” he said. “Our island has so many opportunities to explore and participate in the arts – in all its forms. Connecting with local arts makers only enriches and strengthens our community.” 

“I’m looking forward to just connecting people with art,” Kingsbury concluded. “Art doesn’t have to be in a museum. Art is an experience. I’m hoping to give people the opportunity to sample all of this in one place at one time.”