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PUBLISHED: 5:11 PM on Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Ketchikan celebrates summer with art festivals
Blueberries and giggling feet-what do they have in common, anyway? Ketchikan offers fun community events during the month of August with art festivals including the Blueberry Arts Festival and the 10th annual Gigglefeet Dance Festival, sponsored by the Ketchikan Area Arts & Humanities Council.

A cooperative project of the Ketchikan Arts Council, First City Players, and Ketchikan Theatre Ballet, there is no one person or organization in charge of the festivals.

The 10th annual Gigglefeet Dance Festival celebrates the diversity of community dance with experienced to newcomer dancers. The Festival begins Friday, August 3 and Sunday, August 5 at 7:30pm at the Kayhi Auditorium.

Local and visiting dancers and choreographers work in a variety of contemporary and traditional styles, performing for the community.

Heavily involved for the past five years, the Ketchikan Theatre Ballet, one of the sponsores, provides their studios for rehearsal and choreograph space.

The festival's name actually came from one of the Festival's founders, Sherry Henrickson, when sitting at a dance performance heard a child say he really liked the dancers because they had "gigglefeet."

"It's a very eclectic show, anything from a talking poem to a full number. It's open form and a very large venue. It is community wide and an opportunity for experienced dancers and people with no experience (to perform)," said artistic director/Instructor Marguerite Auger.

Money raised from the festival goes toward numerous causes including grants for students to attend workshops and sending dancers/choreographers to training programs.

"The audience is always really excited to see what dancers are going to come up with. So, it's been fun to watch. It's not just Ketchikan, but the outlying community, Craig, Metlakatla and even someone from New York," Auger said.

The Blueberry Arts Festival in Ketchikan is held on the first weekend of August, celebrating summer and blueberries. Over 7000 Ketchikan residents, cruise ship passengers and independent travelers attend this festival, featuring local and visiting artists, community organizations, gourmet food and blueberry delicacies, games, performing arts and visual arts demonstrations.

"The (Blueberry) Festival is important because it is a community-wide summer festival of the arts. Many people in town become very busy and occupied with tourism and our summer visitors. The festival gives us a chance to reconnect and come together as a community," said program director for Ketchikan Area Arts & Humanities Council Lacey Gilbo.

"Many of the summer events in Ketchikan are geared toward visitors, and this event is specifically for us and by us, although visitors are welcome and do attend," Gilbo said.

"Because this is a festival, there is something of interest for every walk of life: games, contests, food, arts and crafts, music, raffles, car shows, beer festivals, fun-runs, and more. It's our own little summer celebration."

Traditional Blueberry activities include the Blueberry Juried Art Show of work by area visual artists at the Mainstay Gallery, the Fun Run sponsored by the Ketchikan Runners Club, a slug race and slug weigh-in and a Trivia Contest sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Other events include a spelling bee, a blueberry pie eating contest and West Coast Cape Fox Lodge, the Blueberry Battle of the Bands and the Best Blueberry Dish contest.

"Depending on your interests, there is lots to see and do, or ways to get involved and actively participate in the event. Certainly the focus of the festival is art, so there are many different types of art to look at or purchase between the Mainstay Gallery's Juried Art Show and the many art/craft booths at the festival.

"It has that energy that only comes from when a large group of people come together. It's exciting to be part of a large function, especially being in a small town," Gilbo said.

"The Festival is exciting because while you are amidst thousands of people it's still intimate and community-minded. You'll bump into your friends as you peruse the art booths, see your neighbor's son on-stage at the battle of the bands, and you just might beat your brother competing at the blueberry pie eating contest," she said.

For more information visit www.ketchikanarts.org or call 225-2211.


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