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Washington Coast Mermaid Festival Makes Grays Harbor Its Epicenter

Published 05/20/22 at 4:55 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Washington Coast Mermaid Festival Makes Grays Harbor Its Epicenter

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(Westport, Washington) – For about a week, in one town on the Washington coast it will be all about mermaids. (Photos courtesy Capture.Share.Repeat)

Near Westport, the International Mermaid Museum has a duty to keep the legends alive year-round, with exhibits devoted to merfolk mythology while teaching the science of ocean ecology and appreciation of the world that exists from “seashore to sea floor.”

However, from March 26 through April 3, that realm of the mermaid comes alive in a distinctive new way, with the museum holding its annual Mermaid Festival – a mix of performances by mermaid people, music, art and a treasure hunt for the kids. During this week-long festival, there will be no admission charge to the International Mermaid Museum.

The museum has become a staple of unique finds on the Washington coast, both educational and enchanting, with its usual exhibits offering plenty of wonder. However, now these sirens of the deep will be out in the open here, with Grays Harbor serving as a magnet for the legendary finned people from the sea. You'll be guaranteed mermaid sightings, say organizers.

At the top of the bill, Una the Mermaid performs in her traveling tank on Saturday and Sunday. She brings an actual tank and swims in and out of view to the delight of people of all ages. For about ten years now, Una has been a “mermaid entertainer,” bringing a magic act of sorts to the stage as well as these striking mermaid impressions. She's been the organizer of the annual Portlandia Mermaid Parade, which has also included International Mermaid Museum founder Kim Roberts. Through that organization, Roberts won Mermazing Person of the Year in 2021.

Also on the schedule is Olive the Alchemist, who is founder of the Seattle Mermaid School. She will have a regal presence for the Washington coast shindig, presiding on the mermaid throne each day of the festival. For those who want to enter the realm of mermaids themselves, Olive will teach a free, hour-long class for aspiring mermaids of all ages, covering safety, physicality, believability and immersion in that wondrous faerie world. The classes happen each day at 4 p.m. at the museum.

What would an encounter with the mythical selkies (the Celtic word for them) be without the art world genres that have surrounded them? The museum will have an art tent hosting numerous artists and activities for every visitor to the festival. From nearby Moclips on the Washington coast, there will be the glass works by artists Kari and Heather Wulf. From Westport is multi-media artists Michael Beck as well as rock painter Brandi Fornear. You'll also find photographer Wendy Ryan of Grayland, multi-media artist Pamela McKinnie of Olympia, mermaid artist Ashley Morgan of Tacoma, watercolorist Aleatha Kennedy of Olympia, ceramicist Kimmi Kerns of Shelton, photographer Michelle Rayleen of Sekiu, woodworkers Pete and Amy Twigg of Ocosta, as well as Olympia jeweler Ruth Greening and watercolorist Nancy Broach.

There will be music on April 2 at 5 p.m. The Poulsbo duo Bad Little Space Mermaids performs a unique brand of Celtic Rock, with a guitarist and a mermaid on the theremin.

During the entirety of each day, kids can be a part of the Pirate's Treasure Hunt in the gardens surrounding the museum, where they can raid for prizes and find treasure. Also for the little ones will be the free gyotaku (fish printing) station every day from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. For all ages there is a free rock painting station every day. Inside the museum there is a fee for guests who want to mine fossils, shells or gems in the museum’s sluice box.

Celebrities in the world of merfolk will also be on hand. Jill Neal is famous for her Wild Women Art: she'll be signing and selling her artwork in person on April 1 and 2. Author Rebecca Corio will be signing copies of and selling her book, Storm of Passion from her Men of Danger series on April 2 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Adding further depth to the experience will be members of the Portland Mermaid Pod’s Traveling Fanta Sea Cove, hosting a booth on April 2 and 3. There you'll find more about merfolk mythology from around the world along with mermaid and mermen deities. They will also sell handmade mer wares and crafts.

Local food purveyors will be on hand as well, with Westport's own Aloha Alabama bringing a food truck with their famous poke and teriyaki bowls plus delicious shave ice. Legendary kettle corn from Lumberjack Popcorn Company will be at the festival on both weekends.

The non-profit International Mermaid Museum seeks to utilize mermaid mythology to help unite ocean cultures. It's located on the grounds of the Westport Winery Garden Resort, halfway between Aberdeen and Westport on the Washington Coast. For more information go to www.MermaidMuseum.org. (360) 648-2224.

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