Sun shines on Coupeville’s canoe races and water festival

Two competitors cross paths in the single woman race during Saturday’s Penn Cove Water Festival. Canoe races ranged from one person to 11-person crews. Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times

WHIDBEY NEWS_TIMES – Cloudless skies and seldom seen sunshine made for a rare event Saturday in Coupeville — a water festival without rain.

“I can’t think of a better day we’ve ever had in all the years of the festival,” said long-time volunteer Jim Freeman. “Considering the weather all winter and spring, it seems like everything is just glorious today.”

“Obviously, the universe likes the Penn Cove Water Festival.”

An estimated 2,000 people came out for the annual celebration of Native culture and canoe racing, which is about one-third less than previous years, said Vicky Reyes, president of the Penn Cove Water Festival Association.

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THE VOLUNTEER nonprofit group plans and stages the one-day event that is a blend of entertainment, environmental stewardship, crafts and competition.

Community groups of the Lummi Nation had to cancel due to family emergencies and a race in Canada on the same day meant fewer canoe clubs traveled to Whidbey Island, Reyes said.

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