Fall in Bellingham Means Beer, Souvlaki, Airplanes, and Circus Shenanigans

One of my favorite Bellingham festivals is the Greek Festival, which takes place this year from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 6-9, at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church, 510 East Sunset Drive. The main event is always the food, and if you’ve not tried the traditional gyros, Greek salad, souvlaki or, spanakopita, or the scrumptious baklava, loukoumades (honey-dunked doughnuts), paired with specially made Greek beer from Boundary Bay Brewery, or freshly roasted Greek coffee, you’re in for a treat! Browse the gift shop, pose for pictures, or learn a little Greek dancing. Bring the kids to have their face painted and visit the bouncy house. Tours, music and other talks will be held in the church. All are welcome to walk in and enjoy on their own, or attend scheduled presentations. Admission is free. For details, go to http://www.bellinghamgreekfest.org.

For the past 10 years, Lookout Arts Quarry near Alger has hosted Sh’BANG! A Festival of Ideas, as it’s grown from a backwoods off-road soapbox derby into an immersive, eclectic, and wildly unique weekend of music, installation and performative arts. While Sh’BANG still sends brave contraptionists down an increasingly-obstacled course, it has also evolved over the years to include internationally renowned circus artists, interactive art installations, and highly acclaimed musicians. This year’s event is Friday through Sunday, Sept. 7-9, and features art installations, workshops, carnival games, a wood-fired sauna, trapeze zip-line, water slide, puppet shows, storytelling, and more than 100 eclectic live bands, DJs, VJs, and performers. Sh’bangers are invited to join the cowpokes, pirates, mermaids, aliens, and characters of all kinds to roam throughout seven interactive themed zones. Some of this year’s highlights include the off-road soapbox derby racing (and crashing), parades led by the Chaotic Noise Marching Corps, swimming in the pristine quarry to the music of Hooves and Beak, an all-star circus show with performers from around the globe, and a raucous late-night neo-burlesque cabaret sandwiched between legendary ragtime acts St. Cinder and Hot Damn Scandal, the revenge of the giant piñata, and Jason Webley taking passengers on boat-bound floating musical theater for one!
Weekend camping passes range from $110 pre-sale to $160 at the gate. Daily passes are also available. Parking passes range from $30 to $55 (for oversized vehicles) or $0 for the clown car rate (four or more per vehicle). Children are encouraged, but dogs will not be admitted. More info and tickets are available at shbangfest.com.

Bellingham International Airport, 4255 Mitchell Way, hosts a free Airfest from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8. Visitors can get up close and take pictures of historic and specialized aircraft that will be on display, talk with pilots and local flying clubs, and see demonstrations, plus there are special activities just for kids, including  face painting, a bouncy house, and aviation-themed arts and crafts with Allied Arts. Details: https://www.portofbellingham.com/852/AirFest.

Whatcom Museum presents “Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity,” an interdisciplinary exhibition featuring 80 works of art from rare books to cutting edge video that span the 19th through the 21st centuries. It opens Saturday, Sept. 8 in the Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St. and closes Jan, 6, 2019.
The  exhibition represents an international group of 60 artists who celebrate biodiversity’s beauty, interpret natural and human-caused extinctions of plants and animals, and focus on species from diverse ecosystems under stress. While the exhibition features artwork that represents vulnerable species and human activities that threaten biodiversity, it also includes the work of artists whose projects contribute to the revitalization of habitats, and reconnect people to the rich tapestry of life.
“We often read news headlines with alarming statistics and then turn the page,” says Barbara Matilsky, exhibition curator and curator of art at Whatcom Museum. “Artists take this information and create images that inspire emotional and thought-provoking responses. Hopefully, “Endangered Species” will stimulate visitors to help preserve the planet’s environment and biodiversity.”
Whatcom Museum is partnering with various organizations, including Humanities Washington, Conservation Northwest, the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, the North Cascades Audubon Society, Bellingham Parks and Recreation, and the Whatcom County Historical Society, to host close to two dozen lectures, slideshows, and films supporting the exhibition themes. Additionally, Western Washington University Gallery, Allied Arts of Whatcom County and Make.Shift Gallery will host concurrent exhibitions related to endangered species and biodiversity. For more information about exhibitions and admission visit www.whatcommuseum.org.

Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen at 601 W Holly St, hosts its third Oktoberfest from 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8. Admission is only $1, and kids 10 and younger get in for free. This celebration of the fall and harvest time will highlight the German-style beers Chuckanut is famous for, plus sodas and cider. There’ll be fun activities for the entire family to enjoy, including face-painting for kids, bier garden games (washers, giant Jenga, and corn hole), and lots of oom pa pa music all day and into the night. There will be ample repeats of the “Chicken Dance,” a costume contest for everyone dressed in their leiderhausen and dirndals, a yodeling contest, and the popular liter-holding contest, where the winning contestant has to hold out a full liter of liquid with a straight arm the longest to win — not as easy as you think!
A limited supply of Chuckanut Oktoberfest 2018 half-liter mugs will be available for purchase along with a selection of packaged tickets for purchases of mugs, food and drinks.Chuckanut’s famous wurst will all be available for purchase along with Ralph’s pretzels and pickled eggs. ‘The brewery will offer its award-winning German style Fest Bier 2018, along with other delicious European style ales and lager beers. Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen’s regular menu will be suspended for the day so there’s plenty of room to sit and enjoy all the Oktoberfest celebrations and activities. Check out additional information about Chuckanut Brewery at www.chuckanutbreweryandkitchen.com.