NW Washington Fair Cancelled, Festival of Music Seeks Artistic Director, BSO May Concert Cancelled, August Events Cancelled

Northwest Washington Fair cancelled for 2020

Based on the recommendation of the Whatcom County Health Department, the Northwest Washington Fair Board unanimously voted to cancel the 2020 Northwest Washington Fair; the next fair is planned for Aug. 16-21, 2021.
“The Fair is a chance for our community to come together and celebrate our individual and collective achievements,” says board president Nate Kleindel on the fair website. “We are saddened that the current circumstances have left us no alternative.”
There remains hope among fair staff to provide unique opportunities to make memories this summer.
“We’re still committed to achieving our mission, including agricultural education, competition, and bringing people together,” says manager Jim Baron. “What that looks like is yet to be determined, but with the board’s informed vote we are now able to devote staff resources to developing new events and activities to be held at the fairgrounds once it is deemed safe to do so.”
Ticket refunds are available by email request. Refunds will be received within two weeks of request.

Festival of Music Seeks Artistic Director

The Bellingham Festival of Music board of directors unanimously approved a plan at its April meeting to choose a new artistic director as successor to Michael Palmer. The decision–the first board approved succession plan–was taken with all the deliberateness and gravity that such a process demands. The plan was drafted by a small board subcommittee that consulted for several months with orchestra management professionals, festival musicians, community members, and individuals who have conducted previous music director searches. They also studied the League of American Orchestras’ detailed white paper on selecting a music director. 


Season 2021: Michael Palmer’s final season conducted with appropriate celebration, festivities, and honors.

Season 2022: Audition season. Finalist candidates (up to five) audition with one concert/rehearsal cycle, meetings with BFM family

Season 2023: New artistic director leads his or her debut season

Season 2024 and beyond: Michael Palmer is accorded laureate status with the benefits that title entails.

Search Committee:

Beginning in May, the appointed search committee will begin its work. The committee is composed of members of the BFM orchestra, musicians and music industry professionals, board members, donors, community members, and WWU family. They will have full authority to conduct the search; to draft the conductor profile; screen the applicants through interviews, videotapes, recommendations, and in person listening; and make the final recommendation to the board.
The following have agreed to serve: Erika Block, Ellen Pfeifer, Daniel Feller, Audrey Kelley, and orchestra principals Christina Smith, Steven Thomas, and Charles Butler. Sherry Nelson will serve in an ex officio capacity.

Desired Candidate Type:

The BFM orchestra is composed of outstanding musicians across North America who are accustomed to playing under the finest conductors. Our successor should be selected from this echelon, those who are gifted, experienced, and well positioned in the field. The candidate list should be limited to conductors with current U.S. residence status.

Private Search Chosen over Broadcast Search:

To maximize time and obtain an optimal candidate list, the search committee should rely on BFM and other musicians’ familiarity with the field and their recommendations.


The board also approved a draft budget compiled by treasurer Mary Pat Thuma that allocates funds to cover the costs of the search.
The selection process will be conducted in as public and transparent a way as possible, according to board chair Barry Hembree, with the hope that the public will be fascinated and engaged in the search.
Should you have questions or concerns, please direct them to bellinghamfestival@comcast.net.

August Events Cancelled in Bellingham

Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood announced today (Friday, April 24, 2020) he has signed an order ​canceling City-permitted events and facility reservations for the summer (PDF)​, as part of county-wide efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The order cancels most events that require any type of City approval or permit as well as most uses of City facilities and park reservable spaces. It includes many festivals, fund-raising events, street closures for events, reserved uses of park spaces and picnic shelters, and more.
The order formalizes and expands on an announcement earlier canceling City-hosted events and activities. These announcements follow Whatcom County Health Department Director Erika Lautenbach’s recommendation to cancel summer events throughout Whatcom County.
An April 14, 2020, Health Department statement notes that modeling presented on April 13 indicate Whatcom County is “on the downside of the first wave of COVID-19 spread locally.”
“Scenarios suggest that with continued social distancing, the next wave could be mitigated as well. However, if group gatherings resume too soon, the virus’ spread could be deadlier,” the statement continues.
Mayor Fleetwood said the City’s focus right now is continuing efforts to keep people healthy and resuming vital business functions to support our economy.
He encourages organizations planning events beyond August 30 to review public health orders and other available forecasting models to determine if they should proceed with those events.​
The order ​​​​​cancels most activities that require any type of City approval or permit, or use of city facilities and park spaces, including events hosted by partner organizations and private groups by reservation or by facility use agreement.
This affects a broad range of events and activities, including:

  • Public events requiring City special event permits, such as Downtown Sounds, the Tour de Whatcom bicycle ride, Lake Whatcom Triathlon, Ragnar Race, April (August) Brews Day, neighborhood block parties and others are canceled.
  • Events that use City facilities and park spaces, such as Bellingham Bay Swim Team’s use of the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center, are canceled.
  • Picnic shelters, sports fields, and other facilities that typically can be rented or reserved will not be available. Refunds for existing reservations are being processed.

Mayor Fleetwood said following Health Department recommendations has meant prioritizing services and making difficult decisions to help prevent a second wave of COVID-19.
“We acknowledge there are painful financial and social impacts of these cancellations throughout our community,” he said. “Yet the Health Department recommendation and other data we are seeing leads us to feel strongly these are the right steps to take to protect public health and be able to resume economic activity.”
City staff are working with the many community partners that have agreements or contracts with the City, to evaluate needs and next steps on a case-by-case basis.
“Many affected events are fundraisers for important causes,” Mayor Fleetwood said. “We all regret the impact canceling these events will have on our vibrant non-profit community. To those who are able to donate, please give generously to help keep our non-profit services intact.”​
Most City-hosted programs and activities were already canceled for the summer. This order expands and formalizes these cancellations.
“City parks and trails will remain open for use, but we are monitoring parks regularly, and asking that people not gather or spend too much time congregating,” said Interim Parks and Recreation Department Director Nicole Oliver.
Oliver said staff throughout the City are working hard to find innovative ways to host small-group activities this summer with strict limits in place to meet public health requirements. These efforts, being considered by Parks and Recreation, Bellingham Public Library, Whatcom Museum, and the Public Works Department, will be announced on a case-by-case basis.

Bellingham Symphony Orchestra Final Concert Cancelled

In an effort to keep everyone healthy and reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus (Covid-19), the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra has made the difficult decision to cancel the Brahms’ Violin concert and related events scheduled for Sunday, May 31. The Bellingham Symphony Orchestra office staff and board of directors are closely monitoring the situation and doing everything possible to protect the health of our patrons, staff, musicians, and community.
Since the BSO isn’t able to perform in the concert hall, it will be making a virtual concert available on our Watch and Listen page under the Events tab on May 31 starting at 3 p.m. This performance will feature:

  • An interview and solo performance with guest artist Chee-Yun on violin
  • A special performance from musicians of the BSO
  • A message from music director Yaniv Attar
  • The unveiling of the 45th Anniversary Season

“It is my hope that during this time we can reach our community to uplift each other – from our homes, to yours!,” says Gail Ridenour, BSO executive director.
Even though we can’t make music together at the concert, you can help to keep the music going. Cancelling a concert has significant financial ramifications for the BSO. Instead of a refund, please consider donating your ticket back to the Symphony.
“I am so grateful to be a part of such an amazing community, one that loves the arts, and especially music,” says Attar.
“I call the Bellingham Symphony my musical family, and each and every one of you is part of this musical family. We cannot wait to be together as an orchestra, and mostly, to be on stage at the Mount Baker Theatre to share music with you.Be safe, be healthy, and know we are thinking of you at these challenging times.”