Blues & Brews, bowls of chili and craft fairs liven up the KP

As scarecrows and jack-o-lanterns appear drenched with our recent rainfall, we look toward new festivities, with several connected to the Key Peninsula Civic Center (KPCC) in Vaughn.

KPCC hosts its Blues & Brews Fest featuring the Dean Reichert Band and a variety of Seven Seas brews on Saturday (Oct. 24). Doors open at 7 p.m., music starts at 8 p.m. Cover is $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

Chef extraordinaire Amy Loy prepares dinner for $10. Included is your choice of brats, burger or garden burger with homemade German potato salad and fall coleslaw with apples. Pretzel necklaces are also available. Tickets at the Civic Center, Sunnycrest Nursery, The Blend or online at Brown Paper Tickets. For more information, call 884-3456 or email

El Sombrero, the popular restaurant in Key Center, joins the KPCC for some monthly “El Sombrero Nights.” Each month El sombrero donates 10 percent of its dinner proceeds to the KPCC. The event runs from 5 p.m. to closing on specific dates. The October one is past, but board member Claudia Loy will host one Nov. 2, with Loyd Miller and Pat Medveckus.

On Dec. 7, board president Phil Bauer hosts the final evening with Medveckus and Jud Morris. The board encourages all community members and guests to join them at these events — enjoy dinner with friends, perhaps make new ones as you contribute to this vital community center.

KPCC gives the De la Cruz family special thanks for its wonderful support of the Civic Center and its long-standing philanthropy on the Key Peninsula.

Another popular event at KPCC is the annual Winter Warm-up Crafts Fair & Chili Competition, set for Nov. 7. More than 45 booths of handmade crafts/art-pickles, photography, textiles, wood crafts, paper crafts, holiday décor, personal products, lotions, jewelry, honey and more will be on hand.

New this year are expanded hours — from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., expanded vendor space in the Whitmore Room, a raffle of vendor-donated items, and the chili competition will be held on the stage.

The entertainment lineup: Key Peninsula Middle School, Vaughn Elementary, Chili Competition, Key Singers and the Bluegrass Minstrels.

The chili competition begins at noon and will be judged by our celebrity fire commissioners. This amateur competition comes with cash prizes awarded to the top three entries.

Food will be available for purchase throughout the day.

Participating in this event is the KP Historical Society with a table of books and other items that make excellent gifts. You can find me there with my new book, “Peninsula Pioneers,” as well as many other popular ones relating to KP history.

The museum will host an appreciation open house with the theme of “Early Communities Celebrate Christmas” during the Winter Warm-Up hours, with even more gift items for sale and a special activity for children.

A note for you in Gig Harbor who are interested in my book. It’s available at Mostly Books now.

Our strange summer and early fall seasons seem to have confused some of our plants this year. We currently have one rhododendron in full bloom, another with a lot of flowers starting to open, and others with some nice color showing.

A pot of campanula portenschlagiana bloomed beautifully this summer, died back some, but popped out again and showed off for a second round of perfect color. Campanulas are among my favorites, and this one, often called bluebells or bellflowers, are right on top of the list.

A surprise this year has been a dwarf pink snapdragon. It goes and goes and goes, brightening up the recent gray wet days.

Such delights keep gardeners inspired.