Posted by: Jack | September 17, 2007

Lopez Island JuggleFest XVII

From left to right: Bryce, Jaime, girl-whose-name-I-never-got, Brian, Leah, Emily, Nicole, Audra, another-forgotten-name, Muffin, Clay, Oz and Nick. And behind them all, Clifford the Big Red Van. One will never find a method of travel slower than piling into a thirty year old van with fourteen hippies. Additionally, one could never find a better means of learning that “hippy” has to be a transitional stage followed either by death or reality. Although I’m happy to leave lifestyle choices up to each individual, I was a bit embarrassed showing up to this festival with a group that for the most part didn’t bring enough money to pay for the ferry ride let alone the amazing meals provided each day. Many of this crew preach about the downfalls of society on a day to day basis but when it comes down to their own impact, they cheat, steal, break the law and religiously pass the buck onto those who are actually doing something to better the world.

Edit [Bryce, our chauffeur, came across this post and provided some protesting feedback regarding my failure to indicate that he did not fall into the above described group of moochers. His protest is very valid and I must say in his further defense that he did an excellent job of dealing with such a huge group; successfully getting us to the festival and back. I hope, but somehow doubt, that everyone else showed at least some appreciation by pitching in a few dollars for Bryce’s troubles. I think in total I gave him $15 which is a hell of a deal for me and had it been just the two of us, that would have been extremely unfair. But if all thirteen other passengers had pitched in equally, Bryce probably would have come out ahead.]

But enough negativity. This weekend easily provided enough enjoyment to make any annoyances tolerable.

Despite meeting downtown at 10 AM on Friday, we didn’t make it to the festival until well after dark, so there wasn’t a whole lot happening as far as juggling and most people were just hanging out around the bonfire. We all registered, signed up for community service and made camp. When I woke up in the morning for breakfast duty I immediately had to grab my camera and start shooting. The festival takes place on a small farm overlooking Hummel Lake and has an amazing variety and abundance of fresh produce and flowers growing everywhere. A vast majority of the food served throughout the weekend was harvested and prepared only a couple hours before each meal. Breakfasts were oatmeal but with an amazing spread of fruit and nut toppings, as well as peach-blueberry crumble coffee cake and morning glory muffins. Lunches entailed vegetable medley soups, burritos, wood-oven breads, and loads of melons. All day long there were baskets of apples and pears sitting just beside the trees from which they had been picked moments earlier.

One would expect that pictures taken at a juggling festival would depict various impressive feats but my garden pictures turned out better so I’m sharing more of those instead.



Cider Apples.

The apple press which provided an endless supply of cider each day.

This man is the owner of the farm but unfortunately I never got his name. He found great pleasure (evidently) in sharing his cherry tomatoes with me. They were delicious.

I saw four coolers sitting at the edge of the yard and thinking they might contain some frosty brews I went to investigate. Much to my surprise and slight disappointment I found they were all full of salmon which I later heard were caught the previous day just off the island.

Midday Saturday, a marimba band showed up and played for hours on end. Good music makes juggling so much more fun but live, good music makes juggling an unbeatable experience.

All levels of juggling ability were present; from never-tried to accomplished performer. A small number of attendees easily stood out above the rest and provided endless entertainment. Yes, they are juggling nine clubs in this picture.

Saturday night is when the event peaks with a salmon feast followed by an informal show. Many non-juggling Lopezians are invited to the evening festivities so suddenly there were well over 100 people eagerly awaiting the meal. While the salmon sat marinating, chefs went to work on the rest of the meal.

One crew was strictly in charge of tending the fire which was built up to a massive size in preparations for the salmon.

Packed full of salmon fillets, rack after rack was stacked into a very clever and efficient cooking system. I’m generally not a big seafood eater but I made an exception for this meal and had no regrets. Along side the baked potatoes, fresh breads, orchid-packed salad and yet more melons, the fish made for a tremendous meal.

Some more juggling was squeezed into the remaining daylight and live music from guitars, ukuleles, drums and even an accordion provided the accompaniment.

Just before dark, two massive cakes emerged from the kitchen along with five flavors of ice cream, all of which were made with ingredients from the farm.

Random flower photo.

When darkness finally set, the juggling picked up again as people pulled out their various glowing toys.

Shortly thereafter, the show began and featured a few professional performers as well as some improv song and dance skits done by the youngest attendees. A highlight was the Juggling Jollies hailing from Bellingham, WA who combine extremely difficult feats with fun and casual comedy.

After the show, attention returned again to the bonfire where a drum circle continually grew larger and louder.

The final event of the night was the traditional fire show in which many of the long-time-regulars perform with a variety of flaming toys while entirely nude. Below is a video clip which ends with some of this show. But don’t get nervous, the lighting and the low video-quality make it quite tasteful.



  1. Hi, I would like you to be a bit more specific….
    I brought plenty of $ for that trip, I paid for most of the ferry ride and I gave the juggling festival people $120. Oh and I also paid for most of the gas in my slow ass van! I also hate that you would lump me in with the people who do nothing but steal, cheat, break the law, and freeload. When you show a picture of people and say some of these people are scum, without specifying which are scum, they all become scum…. Oh except for you of course. I like you a lot Jack, But next time ride your UniCycle!

  2. Thank you Jack, I like you a lot, and I am very glad that you didn’t mean those things about me!
    I recind my comment you can ride with me any time!

    Oh and those that didn’t pitch in don’t get another ride…..and the first girl-whose-name-you-never-got (my shy mean girlfriend Cyd) wanted to eat a lot of their faces!

  3. Thanks for posting these pictures, they bring back great memories for me. I was a fairly anonymous non-juggler/slack-liner tag-along to this group, but I loved being part of the community. I live in Spokane, and there is nothing quite like this event here, so I hope to make it back this year possibly. Hello to everyone in the van if you remember me! Cheers

  4. Funny hippie description (whether your friend really is a hippy or not). “transitional stage followed either by death or reality” should be in Websters next to the word “hippie”! Hey is this juggling shin dig happenin’ again this year?

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