Over 1,000 people braved what UW Meteorologist Cliff Mass called ‘the most powerful summer storm EVER to hit our region’ last Saturday (Aug. 29) to attend the 6th Annual Poverty Bay Blues & Brews Festival, supporting kids and music.
The annual one-day event, which is organized by the Rotary Club of Des Moines & Normandy Park, is the largest fundraiser for Highline Music4Life, a non-profit that provides musical instruments for low income children attending Highline Public Schools. Each year, the event at the Des Moines Beach Park draws acclaim for world class blues performances and incredible craft beer.
And despite winds with gusts up to – and possibly over – 40-50MPH, guests showed up, had fun and enjoyed a full day of brews and blues.
“The support from the community on such a challenging day was very inspiring and we’d like to thank the sponsors, bands, the breweries, volunteers and community for their un-wavering support,” said perennial Chairman of the fest, Rotarian Brian Snure said. “We live in a very special place indeed.”
Saturday morning started with high winds that caused massive rolling white-caps in Poverty Bay. Nevertheless, Rotarian/Facilities Liaison Jim Polhamus diligently set about his work early that morning to create the best possible environment for the many expected to come.
Long time Rotarian Bonnie Verhunce, who assembled a roster of over 20 of the craft brewers in the Pacific Northwest, scrambled to situate the hardy Brewers wrangling ice, kegs and taps. Meanwhile, Rotarian Vince Koester prepared his famous food, not knowing if anyone other than the volunteers would turn up to enjoy it.
Rotarians Brian Seth and Dave Markwell clambered to anchor tents in place by tying ropes to trees, cinder blocks and massive weights from Waterland Crossfit. Just before gates were to open, an incredible wind buckled and demolished David Endicott’s Music4Life canopy, prompting Rotarians to swiftly relocate him and his booth to a safer place. Due to the fierce wind, Music Liaison and Rotarian Steve Swank made the call to move the bands indoors for the first time in Blues and Brews History for the safety of the both bands and the public.
The Noon opening came, and Rotary President Janel Stoneback crossed her fingers, not knowing if anyone would show up in the face of the storm. The gates opened, and a slow trickle of staunch Rotary supporters, blues lovers and beer aficionados began to trickle in. By 1 p.m. the heft of the storm system (the same one that took out power and knocked out trees in many places in the Puget Sound) evaded Poverty Bay by about one mile. The wind diminished slightly and the sun broke through the clouds. This prompted approximately 1,000 people to assemble to enjoy the event and support the worthy causes sponsored by the Rotary Club of Des Moines/Normandy Park Washington.
Financial totals are still being tallied, and despite not completely realizing this year’s attendance goals, the event was an utter success financially with tens of thousands of dollars raised for beneficiaries like Highline Music4Life, The Des Moines Food Bank, Dictionaries for 3rd Graders, and many others. The Blues & Brews Raffle, which featured $2,500 towards airfare anywhere Alaska Airlines flies and two season passes for Centerstage Theatre in Federal Way, was the most lucrative in any Rotary event history. The winner of the Alaska Airfare was Holly Moses, and the Centerstage season passes went to Diana Lincoln.
The Rotary Club of Des Moines and Normandy Park is actively looking for individuals who want to join in the club’s efforts to take on some of the greatest needs in our communities. If you are interested in joining leaders from different cultures and occupations from around the area; if you would like to exchange ideas and form life-long friendships; if you have the desire to take action to create positive change in Des Moines and Normandy Park, you are encouraged to get involved by emailing [email protected].
Below are photos taken at Saturday’s event by Scott Schaefer (click images to see larger versions/slideshow):