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Lavender festival sets new records

Posted on Wednesday 19 July 2006

Sequim Gazette
Sequim, WA

The crowds of people are gone but the aroma of lavender is still in the air.
So is the sweet feeling of success for Scott Nagel, Sequim Lavender Festival executive director.

It was the most incredible festival we've ever done, Nagel said. About 35,000 people attended with more than 15,000 farm tour buttons sold, he said.

Official numbers won't be tallied for at least a week, but last year people from 55 different countries were tracked.

It is truly an international event, and I met people from all over the world, Nagel said.

Business was booming at the street fair and on the farms. About 100 sellers set up at eight farms on tour and close to 150 on Fir Street, Nagel estimated. Vendors reported business up 20-40 percent over last year. Room on the roads was cramped but public transportation helped traffic flow as smoothly as possible, Nagel said. We had traffic congestion but no major accidents that I know of.

Next year board members plan to increase signage and information available around town. Now that our publicity is so broad we have people just showing up in town and asking where the festival is, he said. If people know where they are going, that will help with traffic flow, too.

Kudos is due to the people who live on the peninsula, Nagel said. When you go to a new place the first person you meet impacts how you feel about the town overall, and we want to thank everybody in Sequim for being so friendly to the tourists and making them feel welcome.

Lavender festival isn't just a three-day event anymore, according to Jeri Smith, Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce office administrator. Out-of-town visitors started coming to the peninsula around the July 13 and are hanging around for about a week after the festival, she said. Every year it stretches out further and further with people realizing they can enjoy lavender all year long.

The festival went as expected for Olympic Lavender Farm owners Steve and Mary Borland. There seemed to be more people at the farm and the street fair than last year, Mary Borland said. People were friendly, and we got lots of compliments.

The couple kicked off the festival with a Thursday evening wedding. Olympic Lavender Farm was the first lavender farm Richard and Angela Sage of Puyallup ever went to and they wanted to say I do amongst the purple rows of flowers.

It was sweet to start the festival that way, Borland said. The Rev. Jack Clapp of Port Angeles officiated at the ceremony. People started arriving at the farm before 9 a.m. and stayed well after 6:30 p.m., Borland noted. We will need to have more help stay longer during the day next year because people kept coming and coming.

The weather wasn't as hot as previous years but that was OK, she said. It's better when it's clouds and sun because people get feisty when it's hot.

Cedarbrook Lavender & Herb Farm had lots of new attractions, including an improved patio, a U-pick herb garden and interactive vendors on site. Next year is the farm's 40th anniversary and it will be a big celebration, according to owners Gary and Marcella Stachurski.

Yes, we need the money, but for me, it's about the people and making sure they have a good experience, Marcella Stachurski said.

Sunshine Herb & Lavender Farm participated in the tour for the first time this year. Others might follow, according to Nagel. There are a lot of developing farms that look really nice, and we are willing to add more farms to the tour if they are qualified.

Lost Mountain Lavender, Angel Farm, Jardin du Soleil Lavender, Port Williams Lavender and Purple Haze Lavender Farm also were on the tour. The Sequim Lavender Growers Association, a nonprofit corporation, sponsors the lavender festival.

This year's attendance was record-setting but next year will be even bigger and better, Nagel predicted. When we say this is the 'Lavender Capital of North America,' it really is.

--by Ashley Oden Gazette staff writer Published 7.19.06 Copyright © 2006 Olympic View Publishing. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed for any commercial purpose without permission of the Sequim Gazette.



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