Port Townsend is all abuzz with excitement about super-cool events this month. We’re serving up something for every appetite—with a cycling ride of the Tour de Forts, to the Brass Screw Confederacy Steampunk Hootenanny, to the Taste of Port Townsend event for foodies, and music galore with Centrum. We know you’ll love the adventure of surprise and delight when you join the fun!

And for those of you who love all things water, June is Orca Month and we’re celebrating to the max with events throughout the month. Catch your breath when the wind fills the sails of the stunning wooden boats in the Classic Mariners’ Regatta and be part of the exhilarating send-off of the participants in the incredible 3rd Annual Race to Alaska!

Port Townsend Orca Festival

Port Townsend is one of the best places in the country to see whales, and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, along with Puget Sound Express and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce is celebrating Orca Month with free public events during the Port Townsend Orca Festival, June 3 – June 24. Hang out with whale experts, educators, tribal representatives and artists, for educational and fun-filled days of exploration around the area’s orca population and the broader whale ecosystem in the Salish Sea. Learn more and see full schedule at http://ptorcafest.com.

Regatta photo by Ashlyn E Brown
Photo by Ashlyn E. Brown

The 34th Classic Mariners’ Regatta, June 2-4, brings beautiful wooden boats, high-caliber sailors racing their hearts out, and a friendly atmosphere that is more pot luck than yacht club. Since 1984, the Classic Mariners’ Regatta has animated Port Townsend Bay with the wooden boat spirit that is quintessentially Port Townsend. This event draws classic wooden boats from across the state to race, and celebrate the beauty of these classic vessels. The weekend kicks off with a welcoming gathering on Friday night. Saturday brings two races, the first starting at noon and the second one commencing immediately after. The final sailboat race will start at noon on Sunday and the weekend concludes with an awards ceremony at 5pm. www.nwmaritime.org/events/classic-mariners-regatta/

Nanda

Nanda returns on June 3 for OMDIGHABEN, at the McCurdy Pavilion for a 7 pm show of dauntless kung-faux, acrobatics, juggling and other amenable mayhem. This carefully orchestrated typhoon of Acrobaticalist Ninja Theatre is the first brand new, feature-length, all-Nanda show since 2010. If you’re a long-time fan of acrobaticalism, you won’t want to miss the birth of OMDIGHABEN. To purchase tickets, go to http://buytickets.at/thunderbull/96744/r/fb.

Tour de Forts

Tour de Forts 2017 is a stunning ride on June 4, beginning at 8 am, that takes cyclists of all ages and abilities on a scenic and historic trip around the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula. Along the way, water and snack stops allow cyclists to enjoy the view from three old seaside forts that have been converted to beautiful state parks. Routes include a 62-mile, 35-mile, 15-mile and 11-mile options. To register, go to www.tourdeforts.org.

R2AK

The Race to Alaska (R2AK) was born in the spirit of tradition, exploration and the lawless self-reliance that defines the sea-faring journey through the Inside Passage. 750 miles. No motors. No support. All the way to Alaska. R2AK is the first of its kind and North America’s longest human and wind-powered race. First place is $10,000 and second place is a set of steak knives.

The race starting horn blares at 5 am on Thursday, June 8, with public viewing areas open at the Northwest Maritime Center. R2AK is like the Iditarod, on a boat, with a chance of drowning, or being run down by a freighter, or being swallowed by a whirlpool. There are squalls, killer whales and tidal currents that run upwards of 20 miles an hour. There’s also some of the most beautiful scenery on earth—as well as a wicked block party to kick this insanity off!

The R2AK Pre-Race Ruckus is Wednesday, June 7, from 3-8 pm. It’s the start of crazy and it’s free for everyone. Beyond great food and drinks, dance it up with Uncle Funk and the Dope 6. Oh, and don’t forget to check out all the amazing race boats! To join the fun and track the boats once they’re en route, go to www.r2ak.com.

Murder Ballad

Key City Public Theatre presents Murder Ballad, a sexy, explosive new rock opera that explores the complications of love, the compromises we make, and the betrayals that can ultimately undo us. The show runs Thursday through Sunday from June 8 through July 2. With a title like Murder Ballad, it’s no surprise that this is a treacherous love triangle destined for tragedy. A torrid affair with vibrant music, see this hit show at KCPT in one of its first West Coast productions.

It premiered Off-Broadway in 2012, where it was a New York Times Critic’s Pick. Ben Brantley said the play was “a small, but savvy musical that panders in style to those of us who lap up febrile accounts of fatale attractions.” For more info and to purchase tickets, go to www.keycitypublictheatre.org.

Brass Screw Confederacy

The Brass Screw Confederacy, Port Townsend’s Steampunk Festival, is June 9-11, and it aims to rock you back on your heels and steam up your goggles with a weekend of costume-clad piratical adventure. The event brings together the region’s finest Steampunk artists and entertainers for a weekend of authors, panels, music, art, gritty history and whimsical flights of fantasy.

This year’s event features New Jersey Steampunk duo Frenchy and the Punk and the World Premiere of BRASS Bolts: Dollymops and French Apaches, a Steampunk short film. Don’t miss the swashbuckling adventures of BOOM! (Brotherhood of Oceanic Mercenaries) with their piratical percussive presentation.

On Friday night, belly up to the bar of the Steampunk Saloon to catch the return of Hot Damn Scandal, joined by The Crow Quill Night Owls and Rogues End. Saturday evening, join the Steampunk Hootenanny with Frenchy and the Punk and Nathaniel Johnstone Band. Tickets available at the 607 Water Street. See www.brass-screw.org for a list of times, locations and schedule of events.

Taste of PT photo by Elizabeth Becker - Seaport Photography
Photo by Elizabeth Becker/Seaport Photography

The Port Townsend Main Street Program celebrates the Tastes of Port Townsend on June 15 from 5-8 pm at the Northwest Maritime Center. Foodies will enjoy delicious samples from 13 restaurants and dessert spots, two breweries, two wineries, three cideries, plus tea and coffee.

“We are showcasing the fantastic flavors of Port Townsend celebrating our exciting culinary scene—complemented by hand-crafted, artisan beverages,” says Sandy Spencer, board member of the Port Townsend Main Street Program. From savory salmon bites, wood-fired pizza, lamb meatballs, chili coconut boil, salad, sushi and scrumptious desserts, the many tastes will delight your palate. This event is a fundraiser for the Port Townsend Main Street Program, a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to the historic districts Uptown and Downtown. This is a 21+ event, please bring valid ID. For more info and to purchase tickets, go to www.ptmainstreet.org.

Centrum's Honky Tonk Polka Dot Dance

Get your dancin’ shoes on and polka dot attire ready for Centrum’s Honky-Tonk Polka Dot Dance featuring Courtney Granger and Luke Bell on Friday, June 30 at 8 pm at the USO Building at Fort Worden. Tickets are $15 sold at the door only.

A Few Upcoming Events this Summer—Save the Dates!
The 3rd Annual “Old School” 4th of July at Fort Worden
The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, public concerts July 4, 7 and 8
Concerts on the Dock, July 13-August 31, every Thursday from 5-7pm downtown
Jazz Port Townsend, July 23-30
Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival, July 30-August 6
Olympic Music Festival at Fort Worden, July 15 & 16, August 12-September 10
Key City Public Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park, Henry IV—Part 1, August4-27

We can’t wait to welcome you to Port Townsend this summer!

The inside passage to Alaska has been paddled by native canoes since time immemorial, sailing craft for centuries, and after someone found gold in the Klondike the route was jammed with steamboats full of prospectors elbowing each other out of the way for the promise of fortune.

It’s in the spirit of tradition, exploration, and the lawless self-reliance of the gold rush that Race to Alaska was born. R2AK is the first of its kind and North America’s longest human and wind powered race, and currently the largest cash prize for a race of its kind.

It’s like the Iditarod, on a boat, with a chance of drowning, being run down by a freighter, or eaten by a grizzly bear. There are squalls, killer whales, tidal currents that run upwards of 20 miles an hour, and some of the most beautiful scenery on earth.

R2AK is based on the hardest kind of simplicity

You, a boat, a starting gun. $10,000 if you finish first, a set of steak knives if you’re second. Cathartic elation if you can simply complete the course. R2AK is a self-supported race with no supply drops and no safety net. Any boat without an engine can enter.

Last year 44 teams were accepted and 26 finished.

Come watch the kick off at the NW Maritime Center at 5am on June 8, 2017.

A month-long celebration of Orca Awareness Month in Port Townsend!

Join Puget Sound Express, The Port Townsend Marine Science Center, and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce at free public events June 3 – June 24, 2017, where we will bring together whale experts, educators, tribal representatives and artists, for educational and fun-filled days of exploration around the area’s orca population and the broader whale ecosystem in the Salish Sea.

2017 marks the 11th year that Washingtonians celebrate Orca Awareness Month. Started over a decade ago by Susan Berta and Howard Garrett of Orca Network, and proclaimed a tradition by Governor Jay Inslee, Orca Awareness Month raises awareness of endangered Southern Resident orcas and the need to help them recover to a healthy population.

June 3, 2017 – The Day of the Orca

Port Townsend Marine Science Center, 11am-3pm
Free Admission to Fort Worden State Park; Free Admission to PTMSC

Ken Balcomb

Get to know the Southern Resident and Transient Orca populations that call our area home. Family as well as Adult-oriented sessions.

  • Welcome – with Port Townsend Marine Science Center Executive Director Janine Boire, and Jamestown S’Kallam tribal member and Chief Chetzemoka descendent Marlin Holden
  • Introduction to Our Orcas – with Ken Balcomb, founder of the Center for Whale Research, PTMSC Executive Director Janine Boire, and photographer and Puget Sound Express Naturalist Bart Rulon (Seating is limited)
  • How to ID Orcas – with Puget Sound Express Naturalist Bart Rulon
  • Get To Know Your Orcas session for children and families
  • Tours of Hope – one of only 8 fully-articulated orca skeletons in the world
  • Free Boat Tours on Puget Sound Express whale watching vessels
  • Listen to Orcas – Learn how orcas communicate and listen in via the Hydrophone Listening Network
  • Family-Oriented Art Projects take place throughout the day

Port Townsend’s central location in the Salish Sea makes it one of the nation’s finest destinations for learning about orcas. Our area is home to a special community of orcas called the Southern Residents. This is a federally protected sub-species that primarily eats salmon. Decreased salmon stocks, and environmental pressures are putting real pressure on this community.Janine Boire, PTMSC

June 24, 2017 – Summer Kick Off and Beach Party

Port Townsend Marine Science Center, 11am-5pm
Discover Pass Required for Fort Worden State Park; free admission to PTMSC

A jam-packed day with fun and educational events to celebrate the start of summer and reinforce our connection to the Salish Sea.

  • Low Tide Walk (Begins at 9:30)
  • Salish Sea Blessing Ceremony
  • Tours of Hope – one of only 8 fully-articulated orca skeletons in the world
  • Listen to Orcas – Hear communicating via Hydrophone Listening Network
  • Free Boat Tours on Puget Sound Express whale watching vessels
  • Explore Gray Whale Skeletons – help piece together a real skeleton
  • Sand Whale Sculptures – be a part of the community art project
  • Live Music, Beach Games, Community Portrait, Food & Beverages, and much more!

Our family has been connecting residents and visitors with orcas and the other whales in our region for more than 3 decades. We hope Port Townsend Orca Fest will connect our community more deeply with the culture, science, and future of these amazing animals. Pete Hanke, Jr. PSE

Throughout the Month

J-Pod Scavenger Hunt – Starting at the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information Center, get to know the largest pod of Southern Resident Orcas by following clues and collecting trading cards with each member of the famous J-Pod of orcas. The first 2 participants to collect all of the cards receive free whale watching tours from PSE.  All other participants who complete the scavenger hunt will be entered into a raffle with a variety of fun prizes.  The drawing will take place on June 24th at the Summer Kick Off and Beach Party.