Washington Island Celebrates Lavender

A butterfly rests on a lavender plant.

This year, Fragrant Isle of Washington Island will celebrate their first lavender festival.

“The festival is a time for food, entertainment, merrymaking, all to celebrate lavender,” Fragrant Isle Marketing Director Julie Imig said.

It’s hard to imagine a more romantic way to make a living than opening a lavender farm on Washington Island. Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm was the dream of owner Martine Anderson, who was born and raised in Provence, France. After retirement, she and her husband moved to Washington Island, where she noticed that the soil was similar to the soil in Provence. Lavender requires dry, gravel-like soil and full sun. In the United States, Washington State is the “lavender capital.” On Washington Island, Fragrant Isle has grown since its beginning in 2013, when the first buds were planted.

The festival, titled “All Things Lavender,” takes place July 24-26. A “Lavender Train” will escort walk-on visitors from Washington Island Ferry throughout the day for a $5 fee. Once at the farm, a variety of lavender activities are available.

“It’s great for lavender novices because you will learn so much, but it is also great for an expert because you get to cut your own lavender and ask questions,” Imig said.

Participation in some of the activities, including the food court, cutting garden, and some tent workshops require “lavender dollars.”

Throughout the day lavender industry experts present seminars. The two seminars are titled “Using Lavender in Every Day Life,” and “Growing and Processing Lavender.” Presenters for both seminars are from Sequim, Washington.

“There are so many ways you can use lavender,” Imig said, “There are the healing aspects; you can put lavender oil on your forehead if you have a headache, you can use it if you have a skinned knee, and you can put it in soaps and candles.”

Visitors can experience the laborious and careful method that Fragrant Isle uses to harvest and process lavender. Every bunch is hand cut, bound and hung from a tall ceiling to dry, Imig explained. “It’s very educational, it’s very interactive.”

In the winter months, special precautions are taken to protect the lavender from the cold.

“Blankets and cloth are spread over the lavender to protect it and allow it to breathe,” Imig said.

Musical entertainment, as well as face painting and juggling will be held throughout the festival. To celebrate the festival, on Friday and Saturday from 11 am – 4 pm, a watercolor artist will paint the garden.

In addition to the seminars and farm tours, there are two workshops: Lavender Wand Making and Lavender Chocolate Making, which are held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“Lavender is great for cooking. It enhances the other herbs that you mix it with,” Imig said.

Several local businesses will offer food enhanced with lavender, including Elegant Foods (from Madison), Danish Mill (from Washington Island), and Chefs Bob McKinley and Terri Milligan.

The festival takes place July 24-26, from 10am to 7pm on Washington Island.