Taking it old school

Special to The Leader by Jane Stebbins
Posted 6/26/19
It’s going to be a full house at Fort Worden for all the events Thunderbull Productions’ Danny Milholland has signed on for this year’s Old School Fourth of July.

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Taking it old school

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It’s going to be a full house at Fort Worden for all the events Thunderbull Productions’ Danny Milholland has signed on for this year’s Old School Fourth of July. Car shows, watermelon eating contests, acrobats, music, food — it’ll all be there. The festivities kick off at 4 p.m., with opening ceremonies performed by the Jamestown S’Klallam Drummers, who will bring their cultural percussion to start off the day as part of the historic fabric of the region. “This is all about American culture, even though it’s the Fourth of July,” Milholland said. “It’s about community building, being inclusive. Building and strengthening our community through collaboration and friendship is most important. My vision is their vision. In an event like this, there’s lots of collaboration.” The Shed Boys take to the stage at 4:30 with their particular take on Americana, folk and bluegrass music. And Stars of Tomorrow winner Maria Powell, a home-schooled Port Townsend eighth-grader, will perform saxophone after their last note. She took the junior division in the Kiwanis Club’s annual competition, playing Andante and Allegro by Aude Chailleux. She’ll be followed by the Port Townsend Summer Band, a local group of musicians that got their start in 1993 playing marches and other band music from the late 1800s to the 1950s in parades, special events and street corners throughout the summer months. At 7 p.m., the “Olympic Games” begin. While the walnut sack races and watermelon-eating contest are always sure-fire hits with participants and onlookers, it’s the Tug of War competition that draws the crowds, particularly with a $1,000 prize on the line, Milholland said. He noted that tug of war was an official sport in the first Olympics, and this event, sponsored by the American Legion Post 26, will stick to its rules. The collective weight of a team may not exceed 1,500 pounds and no one is permitted to sit down. Competitors have 15 minutes in which to pull the other team to defeat along the 60-foot rope. It’s a single-elimination bracket. The event costs $100 per team (www.oldschool4th.com to preregister, or register onsite that morning) and weigh-in starts at 11 a.m. at the flagpole on the parade grounds. Payment can be made at the fairgrounds. Around the same time, the crowd — typically up to 4,000 revelers stroll through the park throughout the holiday — will gather for a community portrait before the Unexpected Brass Band strikes up their funky New Orleans-style tunes. The group is a hit anywhere it goes, which includes city events, parades and and the occasional street corner. Following that local group will be Caela Bailey and General Mojos, with their psychedelic show comprised of an array of Seattle-based musicians, burlesque, circus performers and dancers. Bailey combines soaring vocals and no-holds-barred sense of humor. At 10 p.m., the Nanda acrobaticalists — Milholland’s favorite — will be on stage. This four-man performing arts troupe, originally from Port Townsend and now out of Seattle, specializes in chaotic dancing, music, juggling, circus arts acrobatics and high-energy, visually spellbinding “kung-faux fighting” to entertain and amaze. Elsewhere Cars of all ages — vintage, antique, muscle and merely interesting — will be on display during a show-and-shine throughout the day, as well. All vehicles that owners are proud of are welcome to enter, Milholland said. And with plenty of food, merchandise, contests and games to play, there will be something for everyone in the community to enjoy, he guaranteed. “The big part of the celebration is community,” Milholland said. “Our local culture. It’s going to be epic.” Other activities will include miniature golf, birdhouse-building, face-painting, food, a beer garden and vendors until the day concludes and debuts a laser show Milholland promises will captivate the crowds into the night.

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