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Striking up some holiday cheer

Members of the Kingston Junior High School band Zach Hord, center, on the trumpet, and Melissa Castle, foreground, on the clarinet, perform during the Kingston Country Christmas festival Saturday at the Kingston Community Center.  - Tiffany Royal/Staff Photo
Members of the Kingston Junior High School band Zach Hord, center, on the trumpet, and Melissa Castle, foreground, on the clarinet, perform during the Kingston Country Christmas festival Saturday at the Kingston Community Center.
— image credit: Tiffany Royal/Staff Photo

Mother Nature shared in the holiday spirit Saturday, shining sun upon both the Kingston and Port Gamble Country Christmas festivals and giving droves of visitors a reason to celebrate the outdoor events.

While the organizers of Port Gamble festival were happy with the attendance, they couldn’t say the same for the fruitcake contest — there were only three entries Saturday, compared to the 21 cakes that were entered last year.

Regardless, the judges still had a difficult time choosing which was the best of the three this year because they were each unique. One was a Hawaiian fruitcake that included dates; another was based on a recipe from Yorkshire, England, using dried rather than candied fruit; and the third one was a dark, dense cake with a strong brandy flavor.

Discussions during judging included what was considered original, the presentation of the cake, the taste and well, the fascination of fruitcake in general.

“It’s the intrigue of the unknown,” said judge Brad Buckles in jest.

The Hawaiian cake, made by Mary Lee Horne of Kingston, received first place, while the other two tied for second — the Yorkshire cake was made by Val Martinson of Poulsbo and the dark cake was made by Susan LeBow of Bremerton, who won first place last year.

Down the road, the Kingston Community Center was hopping with a variety of events, including the children’s craft bazaar, pictures with Santa, adults selling handmade crafts and junior high band musicians offering holiday cheer with their music —  a flurry of activity and energy that had everyone in good spirits.

“The best one ever,” co-organizer Stephanie Stebbing said of the success of this year’s event. “We had more volunteers who helped pull this together. I really think the community came together.”

One of the “issues” Stebbing was having that day was a good one — there were so many members of the Kingston Junior High School Band who had volunteered to play in the festival’s band concert, they had to move the concert to the community center parking lot — which wasn’t a problem, given the forecast was sunny without a cloud in the sky.

A large crowd gathered around the band to listen. The Llamas 4 Llove 4-H Club llamas, Iquitos and Skylar, who were both donning Santa hats, were also on hand.

“(The volunteers) just really helped to bring everyone to make the event something really special,” Stebbing said.

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