Sun shines brightly on Mudstock

POULSBO — Under a white canopy in the Northwest Design Center parking lot, former Marine Science Center docent Barry Babcock appeared to take a step back in time Friday and Saturday.

As Babcock explained to children of all ages how the crabs, starfish, sand dollars and other creatures from Liberty Bay interacted in a temporary touch tank, his smile outshone the sun that showed up as promised by Bight of Poulsbo founder Bill Austin, who spearheaded Mudstock 2005.

The two-day event, which featured local bands, food vendors and a beer garden, generated increased awareness about the ongoing effort to re-open the center that was closed to the public in February.

“The kids really absorb this stuff like a sponge, especially when they can touch it,” Babcock observed as 3-year-old Willow Bryant from Poulsbo timidly reached into the tank to touch a bright pink starfish.

Children, he said, are the reason he continues working hard to help re-open the MSC.

“Whenever they ask me if we’re going to re-open it and I tell them I don’t know, they just cry,” he said as he recounted the many times he’s been asked that question by children who have visited the center in the past.

It’s not just children who have hopes of reviving the MSC, though, he explained.

“When our doors were closed, I had a couple from Arizona who stopped by and told me how much they enjoyed taking their grandkids to visit the center,” Babcock said, adding that the center was a focal point for their frequent visits to Little Norway.

The couple would often take their grandchildren to see the exhibits in the morning and eat a restaurant downtown for lunch before returning for the rest of the afternoon, he commented.

“It was the highlight of their visit as they gave their kids a weekend break,” Babcock said.

One of the many parents who brought their children to see the touch tanks was Poulsbo resident Denise Bryant.

“I really miss it because it was really great for the kids,” Bryant said as she kept a close eye on her daughter, Willow.

Visiting the center gave children an opportunity to see all the marine life in the area before going out to the beach, she explained.

“They really need to have it,” Bryant remarked.

For Austin, who was busily taking down signs for the event on Monday morning, the event, which brought thousands of music fans and MSC supporters to Poulsbo for the weekend, was nothing short of a success.

“It was a very good party and we had no trouble,” Austin said. “Everybody had a good time and is now aware of the fact that we want to open the facility again.”

Because of the event’s success, plans are already being made for Mudstock 2006 at about the same time next year, he explained.

“The weather was fantastic, the people were great and we couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Austin said.

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