ARLINGTON — The city’s winter festival that celebrates nature and community doesn’t come together overnight.
Volunteers are behind many activities at the annual Arlington-Stillaguamish Eagle Festival. Some spend months preparing. Over the weekend, there were nature walks, children’s crafts, a chain saw carving show, rock and gem displays and more.
The festival is paid for in part through the city’s hotel-motel tax fund and by the Stillaguamish Tribe. The city manages the event, said Sarah Lopez, community revitalization project manager, in a news release. But the coordination of various pieces of the festival falls to volunteers from local organizations.
The first Eagle Festival was in 2008. Cindy Martinez, with the Arlington Arts Council Youth Engaged in Art program, has been volunteering there for five years. This year was her first organizing the kids art activities. Her craft plans included owls made from cardboard and decorated with feathers, paint, yarn and beads, and a bird mask made from egg cartons.
“The reason I volunteer is for the kids,” Martinez said. “I feel that all children should have a chance at art.”
She started getting ready for the festival months ago, planning crafts and rounding up supplies. The project took over her living room, she said.
Martinez has gone to other winter festivals, but she thinks her town’s is something special.
“We have something for everybody,” she said. “We have the chain saw show, we have the arts show, the different churches are getting involved now. It’s a good full family day.”
Nyal Thomas, of Hamilton, runs the chain saw carving show. He’s a professional sculptor, he said, but is pretty much retired now. He runs shows in Arlington, Concrete, Birch Bay and elsewhere.
“We’re performing artists,” he said. “Unlike a lot of art, we actually perform right there and we do the carvings right there.”
Bringing carving shows and auctions to family festivals is a great way to promote talented artists, he said. They try to have a good time and make it a fun experience for the audience, as well.
Susan Ingram lives along the South Fork Stillaguamish River and sees eagles in her back yard. She also collects rocks from the riverbank. She’s part of the Marysville Rock and Gem Club and put together the rock and gem show at the Eagle Festival. The club members like to show different rocks and ways people can work with them, including knapping, faceting and wire wrapping. Every year, the club tends to get a few more members thanks to the Eagle Festival.
“The festival is a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to meet with the public and show them what value there is in our own back yard,” Ingram said. “There’s an artistic value in working with the natural rock. The creativity is fabulous.”
A number of other groups and volunteers stepped up to help with the festival, bringing animals, educational displays, music, movies and antique tractors. Others led nature walks at local parks or out at the Port Susan Nature Preserve.
“I think it’s just such a fabulous opportunity for people to get out in our area,” Ingram said. “The little chunk of land that we have is so rich with beauty. I love to see all of the families come together and share in the event.”
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.