The Dungeness River is an ingrained part of Sequim.
Its water provides irrigation and groundwater while creating habitats for fish and wildlife. Without the river, the town literally would dry up.
"The Dungeness River is one of the Olympic Peninsula's vital resources," said Bob Boekelheide, director of the Dungeness River Audubon Center.
"It's very important that we protect the river and keep it in healthy condition."
The Dungeness River Festival - an event celebrated to let people enjoy the river while learning about how important it is - takes place Friday-Sunday, Sept. 24-26.
"Salmon" greeters, lively music, clowns and tasty foods set the tone for the festival, which features fun and educational activities for all ages.
New events this year include a community drumming circle, presentations on cougars and bears, and nature art activities geared toward children.
Back by popular demand are stories of the Jamestown S'Klallam People, a live-bird rehabilitation program and a driftwood art show.
The Dungeness River Festival offers plenty of opportunities to discover and enjoy the fall bounty of the Olympic Peninsula. Students and adults will enjoy 25 hands-on nature activities and exhibits including fish printing, a vegetable quiz, animal pelts to touch, expert-guided walks and presentations.
"This year new and expanded River Festival activities will give families and outdoor enthusiasts even more ways to enjoy and experience this amazing area," said Gretha Davis, festival co-chairman.
Proceeds from the River Festival support the Dungeness River Audubon Center and Railroad Bridge Park. The center's mission is to inspire understanding, enjoyment and stewardship of the Olympic Peninsula's unique natural and cultural resources, with emphasis on birds, rivers, fish and people.
For a complete program schedule, lodging discount information or directions, go online to www.DungenessRiver
Center.org or call 683-1355.
The River Festival at a glance:
• On Friday, Sept. 24, the festive music of the Sound Waves, Five Acre School's marimba band, fills the park. The Sound Waves perform on the River Stage throughout the day. Also on Friday, renowned Jamestown S'Klallam storyteller and tribal elder Elaine Grinnell presents "Drums, Baskets and Stories of the Jamestown S'Klallam People," at 2 p.m. in the Dungeness River Audubon Center.
• Friday evening events move to Sequim High School cafeteria for "Birds of Prey," presented in cooperation with the Northwest Raptor Center. During the live-bird program, director Jaye Moore describes the methods the raptor center uses to restore the animals' health. The presentation starts at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, at the Sequim High School cafeteria, 601 N. Sequim Ave. Donations support the raptor center.
• On Saturday, Sept. 25, drummers and singers from the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe open the festival at 10 a.m., inviting the crowd to take part in a traditional welcome ceremony at the River Center. At 11 a.m., Kentucky Bullfrog will be fiddling, and at 1 p.m. the rhythms of the community drumming circle call drummers, dancers and onlookers to the River Stage.
• Olympic Driftwood Sculptors' second anniversary show opens Saturday, Sept. 25, and continues through Sunday, Sept. 26, from 10 a.m.-
4 p.m. at the River Center.
• Sunday's activities start at 9 a.m. with a bird walk. Cort Armstrong's original songs and soul stompin' sound starts at 10 a.m. and "Me, Myself, and I," Mike Kamphaus' one-man band and musical show, follows at 1 p.m. on the River Stage.