Saturday, June 27, 2009


Potlatch (from wikipedia) - a festival ceremony practiced by Indigenous poeples of the Pacific Northwest Coast in North America, along Pacific Northwest coast of the US and the Canadian province of British Columbia. The word comes from the Chinook Jargon, meaning "to give away" or "a gift". It is a vital part of indigenous cultures of the Pacific Northwest.

In an attempt to control Native Peoples, 1885 brought bans on Potlatches in both Canada and the US. Believe it or not, in the mid-1940's members of the Seattle Yacht Club chose this tradition on which to base a family event to be held at their newly acquired property on Bainbridge Island in beautiful Port Madison.
After over 60 years of annually celebrating this event, it was my turn to run the show this year. I attended my first Potlatch before I was born (my mom was pregnant with me when she and my dad attended in 1969.) I revisited the event throughout my childhood and once Brad and I started our family, we began to make it a tradition in our family. Last year, even my parents joined us in Port Madison. My turn had already come up and I had committed to being the assistant (or Queen) last winter just prior to our purchase of CAPAZ. As you may have guessed, the assistant runs the show the next year. Now you know how, with just a little more than two months to go before our departure from Seattle, I wound up chairing a 250 person event. Lucky for me, I had a fabulous committee and the outstanding SYC staff at my disposal.

This event officially starts on Friday evening with an adult blindfolded dinghy races (dad dons a paper bag and mom tells him where to go). There is a dinghy and kayak category - Brad and I entered the kayak side and placed second. This fun is followed by a potluck lasagna dinner. Saturday is a FULL day. In the morning, there is a fishing derby, arts and crafts, sailboat building, a scavenger hunt, and face painting. The afternoon is full of relay races and another on the water game we call the "Whale Hunt". Luckily, no one has to worry about food as there are donuts in morning, hotdogs on the grill for lunch and a beautiful salmon bbq for dinner. For those who still have a little energy left there is a DJ with dance music and karaoke. The kids usually sleep pretty well after all that. Sunday (which is traditionally Father's Day) again starts out with donuts and then everyone races those boats that they built on Saturday morning.
A successful Whale Hunt - Team Baker
It seemed like there were lots of smiles and people looked like they were having fun, so in my book the event was a success. My family had fun this year though we are lamenting a little that we won't be in attendance next year. We thought back to 2 years ago and spending Potlatch with the Dennehy's as they prepared to go cruising. Last year, it was the Giffords' boat Totem next to us at the dock who were getting ready to take off south. Following in their footsteps, we had a great weekend with lots of boating friends. I am sure we will be meeting many like minded families during our adventure. Now I can work on my boat projects!!!

1 comment:

Behan said...

And to bring the circle around, we spent last night with the Dennehys, here in Sedona AZ- reminiscing and laughing about the fun we've all had at Potlatch weekends in the past!