For 119 years, the community of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley has come together the first week of May to celebrate the opening of the irrigation ditches that changed the valley from an arid prairie into fertile farm lands.
The Sequim Irrigation Festival is the longest running continuous festival in the state of Washington. This year the event is taking place May 2 through May 11 with two action packed weekends. There is truly something for everyone with parades, a carnival, logging show, strongman competition, art shows, street fair, and so much more. You can see the complete schedule of events at www.IrrigationFestival.com
But what’s so remarkable about this festival is not only that it is a really fun and exciting week. What’s most remarkable is the fact that the festival is organized solely by a group of dedicated volunteers and supported by local businesses that make it happen year after year. This type of commitment is not new to the Sequim-Dungeness Valley community. It is exactly how the irrigation ditches got built in the first place.
In 1895, D.R. Callen convinced other local visionaries that water from the bottom of the Dungeness River could run uphill and be brought to the valley. The Sequim Prairie Ditch Company was incorporated in November of 1895 and the pioneers worked all winter to build the irrigation ditch and flume. Everyone helped. The men dug the ditch, women cooked for the workers, and even the children helped by carrying water, running errands, and stomping clay into gravel.
On May 1, 1896, the first impromptu festival took place when families gathered from all over the valley, and as far away as the cities of Port Angeles and Port Townsend. Everyone brought more than enough food to feed the crowd as they anxiously awaited the flowing water. After an opening glitch, the water flowed into the flume and made its way into the dusty ditch. The irrigation water turned the valley into farmable land and began a sustainable industry that would support families for generations. As you drive through Sequim and the Dungeness Valley today, you will see the irrigation systems still at work supporting farms of organic vegetables, grains, berries, and dairy cattle.
Join us for the 119th Sequim Irrigation Festival and capture the true community spirit of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley “Where Water is Wealth.”
To learn more about Sequim go to www.visitsunnysequim.com