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Traveling back to good old fashioned fair days

PORT GAMBLE — It could almost be like the Little House on the Prairie television show, except without the horse-drawn wagons, calico dresses and five-mile walks to the schoolhouse.

But the Merchants Association of Port Gamble is going to try and take advantage of the town’s country setting by hosting its first annual Old Fashion Spring Fair Day from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 19.

While the town annually hosts outside vendors for large events, the merchants decided to do something for themselves this year by hosting their own day of fun. It’s also a way to give back to those who have helped Port Gamble redevelop into a thriving town.

When Susan and Pat Wright took over the Port Gamble General Store in March 2004, they expected their first winter to be slow, but they have been surprised by the steady turnout of visitors.

“We thought, why not celebrate that?” Susan Wright said, noting that the Easter holiday would be a good time to mark Port Gamble’s Americana-like charm.

“(Residents) have supported the businesses since (Port Gamble) became revitalized,” added LaLa Land Chocolates owner Janie Marquiss. “I’ve always felt since the first Easter I’ve lived here, it would be a great place.”

To get started, visitors can go to the Port Gamble General Store to pick up a “Hopping Down the Bunny Trail” passport, which will lead them to all of the events in town. As they stop in the different participating businesses, visitors will receive a stamp in their booklet. After the passport is filled up, it can be dropped off at the general store, where it will be entered into a drawing for the grand prize — a gift basket containing donated items from local merchants.

The day’s activities include:

9:30-10:30 a.m. — Easter bonnet make-and-take at Port Gamble General Store — make an Easter bonnet and wear it in the parade

10:30 a.m. — Easter parade with the Easter Bunny — Prizes will be awarded

11 a.m. — Kids Easter Egg Hunt — find candy-filled eggs behind LaLa Land Chocolates; Ages 2-12

Noon — Adult Easter egg hunt — Find eggs filled with candy, truffles from LaLa Land Chocolates and donated items from local merchants behind LaLa Land Chocolates

1 p.m. — Cake walk

1:30 p.m. — Horseshoe tournament — $50 prize

2 p.m. — Pie eating contest — $50 prize

3 p.m. — Hay toss — $50 prize

4 p.m. — Hay hunt — Search for prizes in haystack; Ages 2-12

There will also be games and activities, including square dancing demonstrations from the Chimacum Twirlers, musical hats, a fishing pond, sack and three-legged races, a pie in the face booth, a fish art booth and pictures with the Easter Bunny.

Besides organizing the day’s activities, Marquiss is also hosting the two Easter egg hunts — one for kids and one for adults. When she first moved to Port Gamble, she held a similar hunt for adults and had so much fun, she wanted to do it again.

“The husband and wives would pair together,” Marquiss recalled of the first event. “It was hilarious.”

The Wrights will be hosting two local bands, The Splinters and Celtic Magic, in front of their store throughout the day as well as the Easter bonnet make-and-take.

When the Wrights lived in Bremerton, they participated in an annual spring event in which one activity included making spring hats.

“I thought that was always fun,” Susan Wright said. So she’s collected straw bonnets, plastic top hats and foam visors with googley eyes and bunny ears for people to decorate and then wear in the parade.

The town merchants are the only vendors involved — no outsiders are allowed to participate, Marquiss said. The only exception are non-profit organizations, such as school and church groups, which are hosting games and activities to raise money for their respective organizations.

Businesses and organizations sponsoring the days events include the Port Gamble General Store, LaLa Land Chocolates, The Spa at Port Gamble, Rugosa Rose Floral, Port Gamble Trading Company, Best Friends Antiques, Leonard’s BBQ Oysters, Fellowship Church, Kingston Junior High ASB, Briedablik School and Kingston Junior High Drill Team.

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