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Arrgh! Fun in store at the Kitsap Harbor Festival | Kitsap Week

A sailboat races across Sincliar Inlet in last year
A sailboat races across Sincliar Inlet in last year's Kitsap Harbor Regatta, part of the Kitsap Harbor Festiva.
— image credit: Brian Sauer

This Memorial Day weekend, no one is allowed to say they are “bored.”  There is just too much to do.

Three festivals have merged into one, resulting in a plethora of activities to enjoy in Kitsap. The two-city Kitsap Harbor Festival is held in Bremerton and Port Orchard. And this year, two of Port Orchard’s annual events will fall under the Kitsap Harbor Festival umbrella: the Seagull Calling Festival and the annual murder mystery event.

Now people can enjoy classic cars while dressed as pirates and perfecting their seagull imitations and simultaneously sniff out clues.


And to think that just last weekend, Vikings overran the city of Poulsbo. Who says Seattle has all the culture?

No need to drive around the harbor to visit the two locations. Attendees can hop on the foot-ferry and float back and forth between the cities.

Chris Chase, spokesperson for the Bremerton side, said a highlight for festival-goers is the Comanche 202, an historic Coast Guard vessel from World War II.  Volunteers from Tacoma restored the Comanche to its original condition. Many restoration volunteers actively served on the tugboat  back when she was in the military’s fleet.

“People are coming out of the woodwork to see it,” she said.

And what would a festival be without the obligatory pancake breakfast and fun-run? Saturday’s Bridge-2-Bridge Run starts at 9 a.m. in Bremerton. The run raises money for “pay-it-forward” college scholarships. In return for the scholarship, recipients are required to perform three good deeds for the community, within three years of receiving the award.

Syrup will be flowing at the two pancake breakfasts. Saturday’s is sponsored by  the Bremerton Lions Club and is held on the boardwalk. Sunday’s is at Amy’s on the Bay in Port Orchard. Both breakfasts raise money for local charities.

The Kitsap Harbor Regatta gives sailors and their mates a chance to race from Bremerton to Port Orchard and back. The racing takes place on Saturday and Sunday.

Chase describes the Kitsap Harbor Festival as laid-back and low key.

“It’s not the kind of event where you have to stand in line for 20 minutes to get a hamburger,” she said.

To keep you updated on festival happenings, keep an ear tuned for the town crier. With craft and antique vendors, free movies, story telling, musical acts and diving demonstrations, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy.

And we haven’t even crossed the water to Port Orchard yet.

A 10-minute ferry ride later, Port Orchard continues the Kitsap Harbor Festival with a murder-mystery. For you “Who-done-it?” lovers, now’s your chance to solve the mystery of “Who Killed the Cap’n?”

Beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday and running through Sunday afternoon, you can buy a clue packet that will set your Agatha Christie mind into action. Spend the day interviewing suspects and visiting crime scenes. Organizer Correen Haydock said oftentimes participants go home, talk about the clues as a family, and return on Sunday to complete their investigation.

On the Port Orchard side, there is also a pirate dinghy derby race (picture a soap box derby with a pirate twist), pirate costume contest for adults, children and four-legged pets and a Pirate Ball on Saturday night.

Haydock said the weekend is a good excuse to dress in your pirate attire, even if you don’t want to participate in the costume contest. Some tattered clothing, a sash and a catch phrase like “Shiver-me-timbers” can transform you into a plank-walking, parrot-loving pirate.

Professional pirates from the Brotherhood of Oceanic Mercenaries (B.O.O.M.) will perform stunt shows and entertain the crowd. No need to spend the weekend watching the latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie when you can come face to face with authentic chantey-singing, deck-swabbing buccaneers.

On Sunday, Port Orchard will focus on the Seagull Calling Contest and “Seagull” Wing Cook-Off.

Haydock claims it is the “world’s biggest and best, and maybe only, Seagull Calling Festival in the world.”

The “Seagull” Wings Cook-Off begins at noon on Sunday. Haydock said there will be six amateur grillers and six professionals competing for the “Seagull” wings bragging rights.  (Not to worry, no seagulls are harmed during the cook-off. Chickens, however, should take note.) Contestants are asked to prepare a minimum of 200 wings, but some will bring as many as 800. After the judging is complete, the public can partake in the wings, as they will be available for a donation.

Registration for the Seagull Calling Contest begins at noon with the bird calling starting at 1 p.m.

“It’s a real quirky event,” Haydock said. “It’s been featured on Jay Leno and Evening Magazine.”

Evaluating the contestants are judges dressed in white wigs and choir robes. Judges look for the best call, the contestant who attracts the most seagulls and the best costume.

Haydock said this is one time when it’s OK to bribe the judges. In fact, it’s encouraged. In years past, contestants have given out seagull-shaped cookies, candy bars and even dollar bills.

“It’s all in good fun,” she said. “And very tongue in cheek.”

Rounding out the afternoon will be the big reveal of the murder mystery. Who’s the guilty party? Find out if all those hours watching “Murder She Wrote” has paid off.

After the mystery is solved, a cannon show will end the day with a boom.

On Memorial Day, the holiday will be recognized with a service onboard the Historic USS Turner Joy in Bremerton. The remainder of the day will celebrated with live entertainment and concerts.

All of Monday’s events take place in Bremerton, leaving Port Orchard to recover from the seagull visitors.

And here you thought it was just another quiet weekend in Kitsap.


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