After an intermission last spring, the quarter-century-old Brinnon ShrimpFest is back.
That’s because the community stepped up to make last year’s shrimp sale a success, despite the lack of a full-scale Fest, supplying more than 40 volunteers to process 1,251 pounds of shrimp purchased from the Skokomish Tribe into 846 sales-ready packages, resulting in a sell-out that raised more than $4,000.
“This was quite an endeavor with only a few weeks of planning, and the community kitchen booked,” said Belinda Graham, one of Brinnon’s Parks and Recreation Commissioners.
She said Boy Scout Camp Parsons donated the use of its commercial-grade kitchen for shrimp processing, as well as its freezer for storing the shrimp until they were sold.
Last year’s sale is one reason there will be an overall ShrimpFest this Memorial Day weekend, but event organizers emphasized it wouldn’t have been able to return without the community’s support.
Brinnon Parks and Recreation Commissioners Belinda Graham, Pam Barnet and Diane Coleman recalled how the Parks and Rec Board worked with the Emerald Towns Alliance to keep one aspect of the nearly quarter-century-old ShrimpFest alive, even after the event as a whole was cancelled due to a lack of volunteers.
Graham credited Brinnon Parks and Rec with hosting and coordinating the shrimp processing and sales, while Coleman noted the Alliance pledged to provide the equipment, as well as logistical and historical support.
The Alliance even donated its share of the proceeds from that sale back to Brinnon Parks and Rec, but the Parks and Rec Board concluded it couldn’t shoulder the 2019 undertaking alone.
The Brinnon ShrimpFest seemed to be cancelled again, until the community’s response to a call for volunteers on social media changed the minds of both boards.
Event organizers worked with Rik and Mary Hjelvik to secure Hjelvik’s Farm, the location of the past five Brinnon ShrimpFests, and the total volunteer pool has grown to include members of the South Jefferson County Boeing Bluebills, the Brinnon Food Bank, 4-H, the Brinnon School Parent-Teacher Organization, the Boy Scouts, the Brinnon Senior Club and Dosey Dux.
“ShrimpFest has always garnered a good amount of community support from our local organizations, and this year is no different,” Coleman said. “We hope to expand awareness that this is not just a few groups involved, but an event by and for the community.”
Coleman noted event organizers were fortunate to have secured “a good amount” of Hood Canal Shrimp again this year.
“This hard-to-find delicacy is generally not available in stores, and sport fishermen only get 16 hours a year to catch their own,” Coleman said. “ShrimpFest was fortunate to have secured almost 1,000 packages of shrimp, frozen within hours of being caught. This is not our largest catch, but it’s certainly not the smallest.”
As such, Coleman confirmed that most of this year’s vendors will be offering shrimp dishes, and at least two have committed to prepare dishes featuring Hood Canal shrimp.
“We make sure there is shrimp available on both days of the fest, and we always sell out,” Coleman said. “If you get there too late on Saturday, and miss getting some, come back on Sunday morning to ensure you take some home.”
In addition to the event’s ever-popular Hood Canal shrimp, Coleman assured attendees that the belt-sander races and live musical entertainment would again be part of the Brinnon ShrimpFest, while a giant slide, a new set of “kids zone” activities and a new assortment of musicians are joining the festivities this year.
“For a fee, a limited number of public participants may make their choice of a sander from our fleet to race,” Coleman said. “Come and support the event, our vendors and our sponsors, while enjoying all that ShrimpFest has to offer.”