Films, bikes and kayaks

If you like ordering the combo platter, you’ll love the mix-and-match possibilities of next weekend’s menu of activities on the north Olympic Peninsula.

Film buff? Sit back and relax with about 40 classic and hard-to-find films at the 10th annual Port Townsend Film Festival.

Nature-oriented? Enjoy the hands-on activities at the 10th annual Dungeness River Festival in Sequim.

Is biking your gig? Join the 6th annual Olympic Bike Adventure in the Port Angeles area.

Kayak junkie? Then the 26th West Coast Sea Kayaking Symposium in Port Townsend is the place to be.


Executive director Terry Tennesen has a word of advice to first-timers at the Port Townsend Film Festival on Thursday through Sept. 27. “Be prepared to be inundated,” he warned.

“It’s a party. It’s the best film festival experience around. It’s magical energy. Special guests mingle with the public, we close off Taylor Street and show movies at night for free with people sitting on hay bales, and you’ll find filmmakers in discussion with (visitors). There’s always a buzz.”

True film-festival junkies will try to see all of the 40-plus films.

“It’s an eclectic mix of classic films and oddball movies, independent features and other films that you won’t find here because of (lack of) distribution,” including a pair of Irish films and one Palestinian film, Tennesen said.

The festival’s midnight movies are “Make Out with Violence” and “Zombies of Mass Destruction,” the latter shot in Port Gamble.


Port Townsend was rated one of the Best Paddling Towns in America by Paddler magazine in 2008. The annual West Coast Sea Kayaking Symposium is one reason for its lofty stature.

This year’s main speaker is 1992 Olympic gold medalist and Epic Kayaks co-owner Greg Barton, a fine touch to a weekend of how-to seminars, paddling films, gear swap, on-water classes, kayak demos and world-class instructors.

Former kayak instructor Ramey Fair has been to three symposiums and will return Sept. 25-27. She is a repeat visitor because of the variety of boats that can be tested.

“It seems that everybody on the planet that manufactures kayaks has them there. It’s a vanishing line of boats all the way down the beach. It’s the widest variety of styles, from Greenland kayaks to sit-on-top Hawaii-style models. You couldn’t go to a (kayak) store and look at that many different styles.”

The second draw is the skills classes.

“There are a lot of in-the-water classes that teach skills at a higher level than you can probably acquire locally,” Fair said, including advanced paddle strokes by recognized experts that aren’t normally available in Washington state.

Classes cover advanced strokes and rescues, Greenland paddling and rolling, how to demo a kayak, how to repair your kayak on the water, surf ski techniques and paddling a double.

“It’s the gathering of the tribe,” said Andy Bridge, a return speaker and director of research and development at Werner Paddles in Sultan.

Bridge first attended the symposium when he lived on the East Coast, where the symposium was “this legendary, mythical event way off in a place called Port Townsend. It’s one of the longest symposiums of its type in the country.”

The Port Townsend event is “well-suited for someone already doing some sea kayaking (who) is on the border of being an enthusiast. There’s so much to learn there.

You can rub elbows with many different people: instructors, boat designers, equipment manufacturers, outfitters.

“The great thing is that you can try out the boats. There are about 12 to 15 brands. There’s not really anywhere else that you can try that much equipment. It’s an excellent opportunity if you’re on the verge of buying a kayak or if you want to move up from an entry-level boat.”


It’s a family affair at the Sept. 25-27 Dungeness River Festival at Railroad Bridge Park in Sequim, a weekend of appreciation of and involvement with the natural area surrounding the Dungeness River.

Clowns, salmon greeters, music, food, and 20 hands-on nature activities for all ages are part of the show.

This year’s new events include a water safety and rescue demonstration, stories of the Jamestown S’klallam Tribe told by storyteller and tribal elder Elaine Grinnell, a live bird rehab demonstration, and a driftwood art show by the Olympic Driftwood Sculptors.


Another family-oriented event is the Sept. 27 Olympic Bike Adventure on the Olympic Discovery Trail. The mountain-bike ride choices are 10 miles, 25 miles, or the new Metric Century (100km, 60 miles) route.

About 200 riders showed up last year, and the numbers are expected to increase as the trail length increases, eventually connecting Port Townsend with Lake Ozette.

Portions of the trail are on a former railroad bed, and the rides include coastline and valley views.

Travel writers Sharon Wootton and Maggie Savage are co-authors of “Off the Beaten Path: Washington.”