Fun fact: In the Northwest, summer is often referred to by music fans as "festival season," due to the copious outdoor music festivals spanning from Sasquatch! to Bumbershoot and nearly every weekend in between. This year is no different -- but King County Parks and Recreation has gotten in on the action, teaming up with the organizers of another popular festival to create Timber! Outdoor Music Festival, a community-oriented two-day event in Carnation, Washington.
"It started with the head of business development for King County Parks, who became familiar with Doe Bay Fest and our other events, which are very community-driven. So he thought we’d be a really good fit for King County Parks," explains Timber! co-founder Kevin Sur.
Approaching its sixth year, Doe Bay Music Festival annually draws crowds of thousands to Orcas Island, with tickets usually selling out in a matter of hours. Sur, who is also an organizer for Doe Bay, says Timber! is going to be different. Held at Tolt-MacDonald Park and Campground in Carnation, it's much larger, more community-based, more family-friendly (there's musical programming for kids that the Carnation Library helped curate), and more focused on up-and-coming local artists.
In addition to well-known acts like The Helio Sequence, Fruit Bats and the recently-added Ivan & Alyosha, there are also at least a dozen lesser-known musicians who, Sur says, were hand-selected from an open submission process to ensure that everyone has a chance to be considered.
"Part of what we do when we book these festivals is that we always try to pair bands that people are familiar with with bands people aren’t familiar with, but should be...I listen to every single artist that applies."
"With everything we do, we want to be a positive force for the music industry here," Sur explains, "so when we program a festival, we just think 'how is this booking helping them? How are we putting them before people who need to see them?'"
But why Carnation, which, at 40 minutes outside of Seattle, is closer than other festivals, but still a commitment for music fans who may not have cars or access to a more remote location?
"We were actually looking at a number of places -- we were approached by resorts and farms who wanted to bring a festival like Doe Bay to their locations. But this was the best fit," says Sur.
"We wanted to make it feel like a summer camp sort of feel that also had a really great music lineup," he explains with a laugh.
There's also the community aspect, which Sur takes very seriously.
"Part of what attracted us to Carnation, too, is that we thought it was a beautiful town with really friendly people. We’ve been involved in the community a lot -- we put local-only tickets on sale and proceeds for that help fund their Fourth of July party next year. We’re also bringing some of the events into the city," he explains.
And while any new festival faces its fair share of challenges, Timber! is up against one especially big potential hurdle -- it's accidentally on the same weekend as the ultra-popular Capitol Hill Block Party. Sur says it's not that huge a problem, but that in the future, the two festivals will be in talks to ensure they book different weekends.
"We don’t want to take away from their attention, but next year, I’ll check in and see...we don’t want to be a burden in any way," says Sur, who also mentioned that Timber! didn't seem to be having a problem selling tickets; at nearly 2,000 already sold, they were "very close" to selling out.
Timber! is also a very different scene that the Block Party. At 574 acres, the park offers plenty of outdoor activities, which is a sharp contrast to the highly-urban Block Party.
"We’re doing as much to celebrate the outdoors as we are to celebrate the music," Sur notes.
"There are mountain bike demos, the UW’s astrophysics department is doing star talks...it’s going to feel like summer camp. We have a lot of things on the agenda. People are going to be able to choose their own adventure."
Timber! Outdoor Music Festival will be held at Told-MacDonald Park and Campground in Carnation, Washington, from July 26 to July 27. Information about tickets, camping and more are available from the festival's website.