I can’t bring up the words “Port Townsend” to my mother without her asking if I’m going to see the paper bag factory where Debra Winger’s character Paula Pokrifki worked in the 1982 film “An Officer and A Gentleman.”
No, not this time. Not last time either, but at least on my next trip to the mighty waterfront town I’ll be visiting Fort Worden, where many of the film’s scenes were shot. Also, I’ll be there for something a bit more exciting than visiting a paper bag factory. Indeed, I’ll be attending the inaugural THING festival, scheduled to run Saturday, Aug. 24, and Sunday, Aug. 25. (Gates to the festival open at noon both days, with live music starting at 1 p.m. and running amplified until 10 p.m.; other events — including some non-amplified performances — will run until midnight each night.)
Also going and wondering what to eat in Port Townsend all weekend? I’ve got you covered.
The festival’s lineup looks great. There’s Little O’s Donuts, ice cream from Fiddlehead Creamery, Blue Jay Kombucha and Dumpling Tzar.
Yes, of course there’s also Jeff Tweedy, Calexico, Iron & Wine, Macaulay Culkin and Lindy West — but let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about what 5,000 people are going to eat while hanging out in this picturesque Olympic Peninsula town all weekend. Especially when gates don’t even open until noon each day.
Breakfast options abound in and around downtown Port Townsend. Like Hudson Point Cafe (130 Hudson St.), a quaint waterfront spot open at 8 every morning, serving up cherry cornmeal flapjacks the size of a dinner plate. There’s also salmon or oyster scrambles and prawn frittatas large enough to share.
Grab a quick slice of quiche and a cup of locally roasted coffee, or a specialty drink like the caffe chetzemocha with cocoa and chipotle peppers at Better Living Through Coffee (100 Tyler St.; bltcoffee.com), open at 7 every morning. The cafe also offers a host of alternative milks at no extra charge and makes caramel in-house for salted caramel lattes.
If tea is your game, you can’t miss Pippa’s Real Tea (636 Water St.; pippasrealtea.com). Owner Pippa Mills is a British expat with a deft hand when it comes to flaky scones and rich clotted cream. On Saturdays, she does a full high tea service at noon and 3 p.m. You’ve got to make a reservation, but Mills says she still has availability. You can also swing by any time between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday for tea and snacks.
If you’re looking to bring in food to the festival (which you can in a small, handheld cooler or your own bags), stock up at The Food Co-op (414 Kearney St.; foodcoop.coop). In addition to fresh food, the deli there has a killer hot bar and always has vegan and vegetarian options. Alternately, there’s a weekly Farmers Market (jcfmarkets.org) Uptown on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tyler Street.
THING has full in-and-out privileges, so if you find yourself wandering around outside of Fort Worden during the afternoon or evening, be sure to check out Propolis Brewing (2457 Jefferson St.; propolisbrewing.com) for interesting botanical ales — some of which are barrel aged. Their cozy, plant-filled tasting room is open from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday and is family-friendly. Also, consider making dinner reservations at Finistere (1025 Lawrence St.; restaurantfinistere.com). Owners Deborah Taylor (formerly of Canlis, Staple and Fancy) and Scott Ross (Goldfinch Tavern, Tilth) specialize in seasonal American cuisine in the form of strawberry gazpacho, pappardelle with spot prawns, and lamb tartare.
On-site, two of Fort Worden’s restaurants will be open; the laid-back pub Taps at the Guardhouse (300 Eisenhower Ave.; fortworden.org/eat-here) and the snack shack Cablehouse Beach Canteen (501 Harbor Defense Way; fortworden.org/eat-here). There will also be a large tent set up outside the Commons Building (210 Battery Way) serving everything from beef-bulgogi tacos and stir-fry dishes to Finn River Cider.
According to Nadia Quitslund, who has been handling logistics for the festival, there will be food trucks scattered throughout the rest of the festival, including a main food-truck corral.
“Those should all be open starting at noon and hopefully open later; it will depend on demand,” she said during a recent phone call.
Many of the food trucks are local to the Port Townsend area, like Mo-Chili BBQ, Paella House and Howell’s Sandwich Co.
There is also a Night Market area, open to even non-festivalgoers all weekend. You’ll find artists, screen printing demos, and a pie-eating contest at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“They have Lark from Seattle coming out to do some flatbread sandwiches and salads and they’ll also be featuring a pie-eating contest. There is room for 10 people each; sign-ups are in the Night Market next to the photo booth,” Quitslund says. “Those are two things I’m really looking forward to — I love Lark and I love a pie- eating contest.”