Cocoa’s picks: Banned books, flamenco and St. Patrick’s parades

fREADom Night & Fahrenheit 451
6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, Lincoln Theatre, 712 S. 1st St., Mount Vernon

Like most writers I know, the books I read as a child helped shape the person that I am. Knowing this, it’s disheartening to see schools across the country remove books — both new and classic — from library shelves due to bans. If you have similar feelings, fREADom Night at Lincoln Theatre should be informative and cathartic in equal measure. The event promises to be an evening “celebrating diversity in thought, speech and written word.”

fREADom Night is an opportunity for library employees and school board professionals to share their perspectives on book bans, and the speaker lineup includes Jessica Russell (Sno-Isle Libraries Collection Services), Laura Flores Cailloux (Mount Vernon School Board) and the Touché Sisters (Drag Queen Story Time). Local students will also read excerpts of poetry and banned books. Finally, the event wraps with a screening of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” — based on the classic dystopian novel in which books are illegal. Info: 

Whatcom Cultural Arts Festival
11 a.m. to 6 p.m., March 15–17, Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Ave.

Presented by Allied Arts, the Whatcom Cultural Arts Festival is an annual celebration of the diverse cultures located within our community. Artists of all backgrounds are invited to contribute work representing their heritage, and mediums on display span from storytelling to art, dance, craft, music and more.

Vincent Feliciano of House of the Salish Sun Arts performs hip-hop music March 10, 2023 during the Whatcom Cultural Arts Festival at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. (Trenton Almgren-Davis/Cascadia Daily News)

This year’s lineup looks very promising — I’m most interested in a Friday performance from Vincent Feliciano, an Indigenous hip-hop artist, producer and Native American Flute Player. Saturday evening’s Dragon Dancers performance, which honors the Chinese spring festival and Northern European Imbolc tradition, also looks fascinating. Make sure to stroll through the maker’s market featuring local vendors including Copper Canoe Woman, 10 Buffalo’s Art, Funky’s Hot Sauce and many more. Info: 

Whatcom READS: An Evening with Sasha taqʷšəblu LaPointe
7–8:30 p.m. Friday, March 15, Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.
Sasha taqʷšəblu LaPointe. (Photo courtesy of Blaine Slingerland)

Fellow bookworms, this is the weekend we’ve been waiting for. The 2024 iteration of Whatcom READS — in which the whole county is encouraged to read the same novel — culminates in a series of events, talks and activities. This year’s book is “Red Paint,” and author Sasha taqʷšəblu LaPointe is set to make a series of guest appearances around the county. 

All events are worth attending, but the Friday, March 15 talk at Mount Baker Theatre is perhaps the most notable. In addition to giving a lecture, LaPointe will be answering audience questions and signing books, and the 2025 Whatcom Reads book will be announced. Note that while attendance is free to the public, tickets are still required.

This isn’t the only event LaPointe will participate in this week: You can also find her at the Deming Library and Hotel Leo on Thursday, March 14 (though both events are currently sold out), and at Northwest Indian College earlier in the day Friday. Check out the Whatcom READS website for ticket status and a full lineup of events. Info: 

Volar Flamenco en Vivo 2024
7–8:45 p.m. Friday, March 15, FireHouse Arts and Events Center, 1314 Harris Ave.

Seattle-based dancer Savannah Fuentes has deep ties to authentic Flamenco culture, while Spanish singer and multi-instrumentalist Diego Amador Jr. comes from “Flamenco royalty” and has toured with the genre’s best performers from a young age. When these two talents join forces, the result is a unique blend of traditional Spanish Flamenco and emotive, original dance.

The word “volar” literally means “to fly” in Spanish; for Fuentes and Amador, it represents “basic human need to feel free, to spread our wings to make our own choices and to reach our highest potential.” The duo are certainly reaching great heights with “Volar Flamenco” — and on March 15, they’ll bring Bellingham audiences along for the ride. Info:

Savannah Fuentes will perform with Diego Amador Jr. on Friday, March 15 at FireHouse Arts & Events Center in Fairhaven. (Photo courtesy of Savannah Fuentes)
Bellingham Farmers Market
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 16, Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave.

Only three things can get me out of the house at 10 a.m. on a Saturday: trail runs, coffee runs and — perhaps most importantly — produce runs at the Bellingham Farmers Market. Since winter markets only happen on the third Saturday of the month, you can bet I’m not going to miss my chance to restock on local goodies.

Hot take: Farmers markets are most popular in the summer, but I enjoy them most from October through March. Part of that has to do with what’s on offer; personally, I’d take delicata squash over heirloom tomatoes any day of the week. Also, since they only happen once a month, winter markets feel more like a special occasion — which is how I justify spending the majority of grocery budget on artisan bread, oyster mushrooms and miscellaneous fancy cheeses. Info: 

Bellingham St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Noon Sunday, March 17, downtown Bellingham

The Bellingham St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a festive excuse to gather as a community, celebrate local groups and businesses, and wear aggressive amounts of green. Honestly, what’s not to love? The activities are in honor of Bellingham’s public safety personnel, and all family-friendly, apolitical groups are welcome to join the procession.

This year’s grand marshal is Anna Rankin of Whatcom Events, aka the group that brings us Ski to Sea. Whether you’re marching in the parade or cheering from the sidelines, the only requirement is to have fun — and please don’t forget to wear something green. Info: 

Thursday, March 7

‘The Unsubdued Revue 5: Puzzle Box’
7:30 p.m. March 7–9 and 14–16, Idiom Theater, 1417 Cornwall Ave.

This March, join the Unsubdued Theatre Collective for an evening of short plays that are more spirited than subtle. Subjects run the gamut from teenage superheroes to Greek mythology and killer game shows. Each puzzle-themed play is written by a local playwright. Info:

Friday, March 8

‘Love Letters’ Film Premiere and Panel Discussion
7:30 p.m. Friday, March 8, WWU Performing Arts Center Mainstage, 516 High St.

Catharine R. Stimpson and Elizabeth (Liz) Wood, now in their 80s, fought fiercely to be together in a time when “living openly and loving unapologetically was a radical act.” Just in time for International Women’s Day, “Love Letters” — a documentary chronicling their love story through “decades, continents and court cases” — premieres on March 8 at Western Washington University, presented in partnership with Cascadia International Women’s Film Festival. Info:

International Women’s Day Celebration
5–9 p.m., Stones Throw Brewery, 1009 Larrabee Ave.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Stones Throw will donate 10% of the proceeds from its new “Women’s Brew” batch beer to benefit Pink Boots Society, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering women in the fermentation industry through education. Expect a maker’s market, live music and food to pair with your brews. The whole evening is family-friendly and free of charge. Info:

International Women’s Day Artisan Market
2–6 p.m., The Majestic Ballroom, 1027 N. Forest St.

Celebrate and support women and BIPOC artists at this artisan market commemorating International Women’s Day. Each vendor has their own unique array of goods and/or services that they have prepared, so be sure to stop by and take a look at what each and every one of these local artists has to offer. Info:

Stones Throw is throwing an International Women’s Day celebration on Friday, March 8. (Photo courtesy of Brian Bates)

Saturday, March 9

Anacortes’ Winter Beach Party and Polar Plunge
9:30 a.m., Seafarers Memorial Park, 601 Seafarers Way

Proceeds for this annual beach party benefit Special Olympics Washington — so if you’re (understandably) hesitant about taking a dip in the middle of March, know that you’re doing it for a good cause. In addition to polar plunge, there’s also a 5K race, costume contest and a hot chocolate/soup station. Info:

Whatcom READS: A Conversation on Language with George Adams and Joshua Olsen
3–4 p.m., Everson Library, 104 Kirsch Drive, Everson

As part of the Whatcom READS series of events, join George Adams and Joshua Olsen at the Everson library to learn more about the Nooksack language, Lhéchalosem. The tribal elder and his apprentice will recount their “individual journeys to becoming preservers” of this Coast Salish language. Info:

Sunday, March 10

Book Launch for ‘Gut Reaction’
2–3 p.m., Village Books, 1200 11th St.

Young bookworms take note: New York Times bestselling author Kirby Larson and her daughter, Quinn Wyatt, have joined forces to pen “Gut Reaction,” a middle-grade novel based on Wyatt’s experiences with Crohn’s disease. The book tells the story of Tess Medina, a middle school-aged baker facing a difficult diagnosis. Info:

Monday, March 11

Museum in Mind
2–4 p.m., Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher Building, 250 Flora St.

The Whatcom Museum is gearing up for the second installment of Museum in Mind, a new event series occurring the second Monday of every month. This free afternoon is catered to individuals with early-stage memory loss as well as their caregivers. They’ll be offered time to explore the museum, participate in activities and discussion, and even experiment with art materials in the museum studio. Info:

Tuesday, March 12

Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater Open Mic
6–8 p.m., Village Books, 1200 11th St.

On the second Tuesday of every month, Village Books opens the floor to local writers from all genres. Bellinghamsters are invited to share original works (poems, plays, prose, essays, et cetera) for one to seven minutes — just make sure to pre-register to ensure a spot. The event is emceed by Carla Shafer, the founder of Bellingham’s first continuous open mic. Info:

Wednesday, March 13

Best of the Seattle International Comedy Competition
March 13–14, 7:30 p.m., Mount Baker Theatre,  104 N. Commercial St.

With 26 days, 22 shows, 18 venues and 32 comedians from the US, Canada, U.K. and Japan, “grueling” doesn’t quite begin to describe the pace of the Seattle International Comedy Competition. Now, the top comics from the November competition are making a stop in Bellingham. Brent Lowrey, Phillip Kopczyski, Greg Beachler and Jaci Terjeson will take the Mount Baker Theatre stage for two evenings of laughter-inducing entertainment. Info:

Thursday, March 14

Gluten-Free Mediterranean Recipes
6:30–9 p.m., Community Food Co-op, 405 E. Holly St.

Who says gluten-free folks can’t also enjoy Mediterranean food’s bright, complex flavors? During this evening cooking class, local food blogger Samantha Ferraro, author of “The Little Ferraro Kitchen,” will lead the room in creating Mediterranean meals the whole family can enjoy. Participants will learn to make Mediterranean salad, Turkish lentil soup and deconstructed baba ghanoush with tahini sauce. Info: 

Friday, March 15

Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival
March 15–17, locations vary

Blaine’s annual birding festival has something to offer avian enthusiasts of all ages, from keynote speakers to children’s activities and, of course, flocks of majestic birds to observe. Events occur across Blaine, Birch Bay and Semiahmoo, and this year’s headquarters are located at the Blaine Community Center Pavilion. Make sure to check online for schedules and registration information. Info:

‘Mary Poppins Jr.’
7 p.m., Lincoln Theatre, 712 S. 1st St., Mount Vernon

In this reimagined take on the classic stories by P.L. Travers and the Walt Disney movie, “Mary Poppins Jr.” follows Mary and the Banks family as they re-learn what it means to be a family and support each other. Enjoy the memorable songs and magical adventures that come with this beloved classic at the Lincoln Theatre. Info:

Saturday, March 16

Buffalo Exchange’s 50th Anniversary Pop-Up Shop
11 a.m. to 7  p.m. March 16–17, 1209 N. State St.

Buffalo Exchange, aka one of downtown Bellingham’s best bets for unique fashion finds, is celebrating 50 years. In addition to deals on designer goods, vintage items and current trends, shoppers can enjoy live music and even get their fortune told by a tarot reader. Other activities to look forward to include raffles, giveaways and a pop-up coffee stand by Makeworth Market. Info: 

Native Plant Sale
9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Pioneer Park, 2004 Cherry St., Ferndale

The Whatcom Conservation District has been holding an annual native plant sale for 31 years, and the 2024 edition is just around the corner. The in-person sale features vendors from the Whatcom County, though plants can also be purchased in advance online. Info: 

‘Sugar Does Broadway’
7:30 p.m., Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.

Cabaret star Sugar, aka Brie Mueller, is headed to Mount Baker Theatre stage to perform a medley of Broadway hits from across genres and eras. She’ll be leading a group of performers, plus the “infamous” Sugar Band, in “Sugar Does Broadway,” a show described as “one of the unique and entertaining shows in the Pacific Northwest.” If you like your Saturday nights filled with music, dance, comedy and plenty of sass, you know where to look. Info:

Bellingham Chamber Chorale‘s ‘Deep River’
Noon on March 16 and 5 p.m., March 17, Church of the Assumption, 2116 Cornwall Ave. 

Join the Bellingham Chamber Chorale for “Deep River,” a concert paying homage to African American Spirituals. The performance is the result of a “respectful collaboration” between soloist Shelia Tate and artistic director and conductor Dr. Frederick Mabalot, meant to honor the legacy and cultural significance of Spirituals as a genre. Info: 

Sunday, March 17

St. Paddy’s Day Celebration at Stones Throw
2–4 p.m., Stones Throw Brewing, 1009 Larrabee Ave.

Not sure what to do after the parade this St. Patrick’s Day? The folks at Stones Throw are here to help you keep the party going. Hop over to Fairhaven on Sunday afternoon to enjoy tunes from Flattery, food from Galley2Go and even a special St. Patrick’s Day beer release. Info: 

Before heading out to attend in-person happenings, check with individual venues to make sure the event is still taking place as scheduled.

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Cocoa Laney is CDN’s lifestyle editor; reach her at; 360-922-3090 ext. 128.

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