Oak Harbor Music Festival shares awards with city, Whidbey Weekly

— Created December 21, 2022 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

It’s one of the biggest annual events on Whidbey Island, and now the Oak Harbor Music Festival is a statewide award-winning event.

At the Dec. 6 meeting of the Oak Harbor City Council, OHMF president, Cynthia Mason, announced the organization had won two awards recently from the Washington Festival and Events Association. The organization was recognized with a Summit Award for its volunteer program, which Mason presented to the City of Oak Harbor. The other award was in the newspaper/tabloid category, which OHMF won for its full-page advertisement and accompanying news article published in Whidbey Weekly, which she presented to publisher Eric Marshall, who is a member of the city council.

Mason, who said the music festival had joined WFEA just this year, submitted applications in three categories and won in two of them.

“It’s such an honor to be recognized by such a well-rounded, diverse and inclusive organization as WFEA,” she told Whidbey Weekly via email, adding how pleased she is to be able to refer to the music festival as an award-winning event.

“It makes me feel so proud of what has been accomplished, well, it brings tears to my eyes, literally,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

The Oak Harbor Music Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. Mason said she wanted to share the organization’s award for its volunteers with the city because it is the community that makes the festival possible.

“The volunteer recognition is the community of Oak Harbor – I couldn’t think of a better house to keep it in than City Hall,” she said. “It takes a village.”

Every year, OHMF recruits more than 200 volunteers to help pull off the three-day event.

“The Oak Harbor Music Festival could not happen without the volunteers that have shown up year-over-year, demonstrating pride in and their ownership not only of the festival, but of their of their home – Oak Harbor, on beautiful Whidbey Island,” she said. “It’s a magical place and our visitors know how welcomed they are to enjoy historical downtown for the Labor Day weekend.”

Winning awards is great, according to Mason, but the music festival has seen increasing success over its 10-year history. That has made it both easier to recruit talent to perform at the festival and more difficult to choose among the applicants.

“Larry Mason, director and chair of music and stages, has become so impressed with not only how many submissions he receives but the caliber of talent is such a compliment,” said Mason. “The Oak Harbor Music Festival has grown into a wonderful weekend long event — I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years brings.”

The WFEA is a statewide organization with members who put on events of all sizes. Mason said she is sure there is much to learn from its many members.

“All members of WFEA learn from each other,” she said. “They host a three-day conference full of seminars and workshops that bring education, conversation and ideas from all areas of event planning and for all vendors involved.”

For now, it’s time to start looking ahead.

“The board has wrapped up 2022 and has set a date in January to host its strategic planning session,” said Mason. “They’ve completed two five-year plans and now will look to the future and set goals for the next five to 10 years.” Find more information and learn how to get involved at oakharborfestival.com. To learn more about the Washington Festival and Events Association, visit wfea.org.