Arts and Entertainment

Sing a song for the south

LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends - Photo courtesy of LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends
LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends
— image credit: Photo courtesy of LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends

Lynwood Center lies on the scenic south end of the island and has mostly been enjoyed as a well-kept secret by locals.

With its own cafe and pub, a market, bakery and even a historic movie theater, the neighborhood has formed its own unique character.

But the small neighborhood isn’t so small anymore.

“The neighborhood has grown up quite a bit,” said Arnie Sturham, owner of the Treehouse Café.

It’s so grown up, Lynwood now boasts its very own annual festival.

The Taste of Lynwood is a neighborhood festival thrown by the handful of local businesses. Attractions range from vendor booths, food, a kids’ zone, live music and more. It’s one day for Lynwood restaurants, markets, bakeries and more to thank their neighborhood for its support over the year.

“It’s kind of an end-of-summer celebration,” said Sturham, who is one of the organizers of the Sept. 15 fete.

Sturham said that Lynwood is a different side of the island that most people don’t get to experience. The festival is a chance to show what Lynwood is all about.

“Hey, it’s Lynwood. Come check us out,” Sturham said. “We are one of the service areas outside of Winslow and we have a different feel than Winslow. We are not dependent on tourism as much. It’s a great historic neighborhood.”

The daylong event kicks off with a race up Baker Hill to Gazzam Lake at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The first man and woman up the hill will be crowned king and queen of the festival.

Their reward, aside from festival royalty, is a personalized stein kept at the Treehouse Café which they will use to enjoy one free beer a week over the next year.

Registration for the race can be found on the event’s website.

Officially starting at 11 a.m., more than 70 arts and crafts vendors, food tents and other attractions will line Pleasant Beach Drive. The road in front of Lynwood Center will be closed to traffic for the day.

A kids’ zone will also be set up and manned by volunteers from the Spartan cheerleading squad and the Kids Discovery Museum.

Casper Babypants will open the day’s live music.

Casper Babypants is renowned in the Northwest by his other name, Chris Ballew of Presidents of the United States of America fame. Ballew will trade his alternative punk sound in for songs that kids and parents can enjoy together.

Music will carry the festival along with performances by The Wired and, finally, LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends.

The Taste of Lynwood has grown so large this year, a second stage has been added that will showcase a talent show, the local teen band Blacklight, and headliner musician Zach Fleury.

The festival is scheduled to shut down at 8 p.m, but the party won’t stop, however. The Treehouse Café will keep the festive spirit of Lynwood alive on through the night with more music by Cody Beebe and the Crooks.

The entire festival is only possible because of volunteers donating their time. It is also a zero-waste celebration this year, meaning all plates, serving utensils and more will be either recycled or composted.

The festival has humble roots, and began as a simple neighborhood block party to celebrate the corner of the island. The event has grown each year.

“The neighborhood has grown a lot in the time we have been doing it, and the event is growing too,” Sturham said.

It’s not by accident that off-islanders are coming for a taste of Lynwood.

“We are extending it off-island,” said Carol Carley, one of the coordinators of the events. “We want it to be a bigger event and to grow each year.”

This year, organizers have advertised the festival off-island through radio spots and promotion at major regional events such as Bumbershoot.

“Last year we had very little radio promotion,” Sturham said. “But we’ve probably done seven times as much advertising with radio spots off the island this year, and we’re advertising with the Stranger.”

Carley said there will be shuttle service from the ferry terminal that will run to parking lots at the island’s American Legion Hall and Blakely Elementary School and on to the festival.

With the opening of the neighborhood’s new development, which will bring in new shops, an inn and other businesses, Lynwood is growing. Along with the event itself getting bigger each year, the 2012 Taste of Lynwood may be the last opportunity to experience it as a small corner of the island.

More festival information, including registration for the Baker Hill race, can be found at its website www.tasteof

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