Lifestyle

Valley civic programs take root

Greetings once again Valley Arts Crossroads readers. Spring is here and new growth begins to bud. New projects are beginning to bloom in our fair Valley, culturally speaking.

The North Bend Alpine Days festival committee reorganized and formed the new North Bend Education and Cultural Association (NBECA). You may be surprised to learn that Alpine Days is a festival put on by private citizens and is not a charity nor an officially sponsored event by the city of North Bend. It has always been private citizens celebrating our town. Along with its name change, the committee also renamed the Alpine Days summer festival. It is now called "The Festival at Mount Si."

The former Alpine Days festival committee has reorganized in order to become a nonprofit civic association eligible for public grants and able to offer private tax-deductible donations.

"This creates more opportunities for involvement from people within the community. As always, it's a challenge to bring together enough volunteers and the needed funding to stage an event of this kind that appeals to a wide local and regional audience," said Pam Whittington, fund-raising chairperson for the festival this year.

The summer festival has grown steadily into a sort of institution over the years. Last year's festival was the largest yet with over 30,000 attending. This year's promises to be as big or bigger.

NBECA's mission statement is: "To promote the spirit of North Bend's small-town community by providing educational and cultural programs that will preserve the past, celebrate the present, and embrace the future."

"This widens our mandate from just organizing one festival per year to becoming the umbrella organization that can sponsor many kinds of cultural and educational events. For right now, our primary focus is The Festival at Mount Si," said festival organizer Jill Massengill. This year the festival dates are Aug. 12, 13 and 14, 2005.

I am excited because now the stage is set to expand our cultural horizons. The NBECA opens the door for so many other projects beyond the single festival. NBECA is considering sponsoring "Christmas in the Cascades" this year; an event that included the lighting of the city's Christmas tree. Other proposed projects include a "North Bend Historical Walk and Wagon Tour" and a grant/scholarship program for deserving youth who are civic minded and contribute to the community through public service and other volunteer efforts.

Future plans include partnering with other local nonprofits and organizing an "Art Walk" with local artists to promote tourism and boost local business; developing cultural and educational programs and resources; dealing with environmental issues that affect the community; and raising funds to purchase items that benefit the community (i.e.: purchase wagon for historical wagon tours and create an outdoor climbing wall).

I urge you to please get involved with this wonderful project. They need many committed volunteers and committee chairs for this and other projects. For information, call (425) 888-8535. The committee meets the first Monday of the month at The Pizza Place in North Bend at 7 p.m.

On another front, The Unity Theater in downtown North Bend is doing its part to cross-pollinate the arts this spring. Added to the regular improv, comedy and variety shows every third and last Saturday of the month, two special events are scheduled for early April.

On Friday, April 8, local bellydance instructor and performer Carla Dearmis and several others are putting on a "Hafla" at The Unity Theater. A Hafla is a Middle Eastern dance party and everyone enjoys a party, right? This is a "Ladies Only" evening with doors opening at 7 p.m. Dance entertainment will be supplied by local professional and amateur belly dancers. Bring potluck items to share if you'd like. A suggested donation of $5 is requested that will benefit Intuitive Learning Systems and The Unity Theater, a nonprofit arts organization. For information, call Carla Dearmis at (425) 888-4544.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, April 9, a longtime favorite act returns to The Unity Theater. "The Brothers from Different Mothers" juggling team will present a night of comedy, magic and, of course, juggling. They juggle fruit, vegetables, knives, balls and pins and can balance a horse on their faces. Alex and Matt's wit and off-the-wall antics mixed with their desire to make people laugh will leave the audience thoroughly entertained. Using physical comedy, juggling and audience interaction, they have created a unique show that is suitable for all ages, yet remains on the cutting edge.

Joining the brothers for this show is magician and variety performer Scotty Walsh. His wit and sleight of hand will amaze, amuse and delight young and old alike. He's been called a cross between "Dennis the Menace" and the Brothers Grimm. He'll also meet "The Brothers from Different Mothers" in a show you won't soon forget.

The Unity Theater is located in North Bend on the second floor of the Masonic Lodge, 119 North Bend Way, above the Singletrack Bike Shop. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and kids. Tickets will be available at the door or in advance at www.unitytheater.org.

Contact Gary Schwartz by calling (425) 417-5667 or e-mailing gary@unitytheater.org. Visit The Unity Theater's Web site at www.unitytheater.org.

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