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Cocoa’s picks: Beach parties, puzzles and International Women’s Day

A curated selection of happenings in Whatcom and Skagit counties

Stones Throw Brewery is throwing an International Women's Day event on Friday, March 8. Ten percent of sales from its new “Women’s Brew” beer will benefit Pink Boots Society. (Photo courtesy of Brian Bates)
By Cocoa Laney Lifestyle Editor


Wild Women Week
Feb. 29—March 9, locations vary

Ever wanted to try acro yoga? How about open water swimming? Well, now’s your chance to do so with a group of like-minded women. From Thursday, Feb. 29 through Saturday, March 9, the nonprofit Shifting Gears is celebrating “Wild Women Week” by hosting a slew of outdoor (and sometimes indoor) activities each day. Options range from hiking to biking, kayaking, rowing, cribbage and bowling — or, as their website puts it, “whatever gets you excited and feeling empowered.”

It’s intimidating to learn a new outdoor sport — especially when that sport is traditionally male-dominated. That’s why Shifting Gears works to level the playing field by offering programs for women to connect, learn and build community through recreation. Participants in “Wild Women Week” can try out a different activity every day, and a full lineup of events can be found on Shifting Gears’ website. The whole thing wraps up with the “Dirt to Indulgence” afterparty from 5–9 p.m. on March 9 at Lost Giants. Info:

Actors from the Unsubdued Collective rehearse “The Unsubdued Revue 5: Puzzle Box.” (Photo courtesy of Albertson Creative Works)
‘The Unsubdued Revue 5: Puzzle Box’ 
7:30 p.m. March 7–9 and 14–16, Idiom Theater, 1417 Cornwall Ave.

Bellingham might be known as the city of subdued excitement, but this reputation isn’t always deserved. Case in point: the aptly named Unsubdued Theatre Collective. This Bellingham arts organization aims to break down traditional theater hierarchies, opting instead for a collaborative approach. 

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. The final production is highly entertaining, and we’re looking forward to seeing what else the Collective has planned for 2024. Info:

International Women’s Day Celebration
5–9 p.m. Friday, March 8, Stones Throw Brewery, 1009 Larrabee Ave.

Fairhaven’s favorite brewery is ringing in International Women’s Day in style, and the main event is — what else? — a beer release. 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. 

But you don’t have to like beer to get something out of the occasion: 13 female-identifying artists will be selling their wares at a maker’s market from 5–8 p.m. Earlier in the afternoon, Shifting Gears will be leading a 2 p.m. gravel bike ride that finishes at Stones Throw just in time for the beer release. Attendees can also expect live music from the Sweet Goodbyes, and Galley2Go and GIRLnDOG will be on-site serving meals, snacks and sweet treats. The whole evening is free of charge and family-friendly. Info:

The Sweet Goodbyes will perform at Stones Throw Brewery’s International Women’s Day event on Friday, March 8. (Photo courtesy of Stones Throw Brewery)
‘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.” For Stimpson, a professor and feminist scholar, being a lesbian put her career and personal relationships at risk. Wood, an Australian musicologist, had her queerness weaponized against her in family court — despite her children’s explicit wishes to remain with her.

The upcoming documentary “Love Letters” chronicles Wood’s landmark legal fight to move to New York with her children and ultimately be with Stimpson. But despite the film’s extraordinary circumstances, it’s ultimately a love story — albeit one that spans “decades, continents and court cases.” 

Just in time for International Women’s Day, “Love Letters” premieres on March 8 at Western Washington University, presented in partnership with CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival. Make sure to stay after the screening for a panel conversation with Stimpson, Wood and director Greta Schiller. Advance registration is required; tickets are limited. Info:

Skagit Habitat for Humanity Raise the Roof Gala and Benefit Auction
6 p.m. Saturday, March 9, Swinomish Casino and Lodge, 12885 Casino Drive

Here’s a not-so-fun fact: According to, the median listing home price in Skagit County is $650,000. You can imagine why breaking into the housing market isn’t easy for many families — but luckily, Skagit County has organizations like Habitat for Humanity, which works with “hard-working, low-income families in the county to build, buy and maintain affordable homes.”

If you’d like to learn more about Skagit Habitat for Humanity and have a fun night on the town, consider attending their annual gala on March 9. The event will include everything from dinner and drinks to a dessert dash, raffle and silent auction. Best of all, the night’s proceeds help Skagit Habitat accomplish their important work. This year’s event is Venetian carnival-themed — and yes, costumes are encouraged. Info:

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

Some folks prefer to spend late winter in hibernation mode, buried under a minimum of four blankets. Others say goodbye to the season by laughing in the face of hypothermia. I personally belong to the former camp — but if you’re more of a thrill seeker, the Anacortes Polar Plunge might be up your alley.

Proceeds for Anacortes’ 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 the aquatics, there’s also a 5K race, costume contest and a hot chocolate/soup station. Registration opens at 9:30 a.m., and the plunge itself happens at 12:30 p.m. If I were you, I’d bring a surplus of warm towels. Info:


Calendar entries written by contributor Maya Heinselman.

Thursday, Feb. 29

National Theatre Live: ‘Romeo & Juliet’
6 p.m., Lincoln Theatre, 712 S. 1st St., Mount Vernon

National Theatre’s “Romeo & Juliet” presents a film rendition of this classic Shakespearean tragedy with a new, reinvented outlook. Follow along with Jessie Buckley (Juliet) and Josh O’Connor (Romeo) as they navigate love while defying feuding families. Info:

In a new spin on the classic tale, “Romeo & Juliet” animates the “remarkable backstage spaces of the National Theatre in which desire, dreams and destiny collide.” The new film will stream at the Lincoln Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 29. (Photo courtesy of The Lincoln Theatre)
Suzette Mullen, ‘The Only Way Through Is Out’
6–7 p.m., Village Books, 1200 11th St.

Suzette Mullen shares her memoir doubling as a coming-out and a coming-of-age story at Village Books’ Reading Gallery. “The Only Way Through Is Out” tells the tale of her knowing there was something holding her back in life, then navigating her own identity and relationships after her realization as to what that “something” was. Info:

Friday, March 1

‘Dungeons and Drag Queens’ — Bellingham Premier
8–10 p.m., New Prospect Theatre, 207 Prospect St.

“High-fantasy meets high-fashion” as three drag queens partake in the daring game of Dungeons and Dragons. Whether they’re traipsing through a forest or wandering the halls of a castle, you’ll find yourself rooting for these queens through all of the twists and turns this tabletop game throws at them. Info:

March 2024 Gallery Exhibit: ‘Whatcom Reads and Cultural Festival Showcase’ Opening Reception
6–9 p.m., Allied Arts Gallery, 1418 Cornwall Ave.

Submissions for the annual Whatcom READS Art Challenge are displayed in the Allied Arts Gallery Exhibit starting on March 1. Be the first to admire these unique works of art reflecting each artist’s personal legacy, a theme derived from the year’s chosen book “Red Paint” by Sasha LaPointe. Info:

Saturday, March 2

A Fascination for Hellebores — Christianson’s 19th Winter Festival
9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Christianson’s Nursery, 15806 Best Road, Mount Vernon

Hellebores, a bright perennial in bloom until April, are a great addition when looking for a colorful piece to add to your winter garden. Christianson’s Nursery has a large variety of hellebores to choose from during this year’s annual winter festival. Be sure to also stop in for their keynote speaker, Mark Leighty, from Little Prince of Oregon Nursery. Info:

‘Kevin McDonald Superstar’
7:30–8:45 p.m., New Prospect Theatre, 207 Prospect St.

Kevin McDonald plays himself in a rock opera written by himself, about himself, for himself. Based on “totally true events,” McDonald’s play will feature members of The Upfront Theatre in a winding story of love, betrayal and fame. Be sure to check out one of his workshops while he’s in town for the weekend, too. Info:

Cedar Weaving
11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Lynden Library, 216 4th St.

Lummi artists Lee Plaster and Toshi Simmonds teach participants how to use cedar strands to weave a headband in this workshop. Be sure to wear clothes that you’re comfortable staining, as the colors may bleed onto them. Take the tips you get from this lesson to make your own unique cedar-woven crafts. Info:

Creative Avenue Market at the Depot
10 a.m. to 3 p.m., The Depot Arts Center, 611 R Ave., Anacortes

Celebrate both Read Across America Week and Dr. Seuss’s birthday by attending the Creative Avenue Market. The local vendors joining are encouraged to bring both whimsical and book-themed artifacts for each occasion, so get ready to take home some eccentric Seussian-style items. Info:

The Creative Avenue Market takes place Saturday, March 2 at the Depot Arts Center in Anacortes. (Photo courtesy of Abbie Kunch Photography)

Sunday, March 3

Documenting Grace: An Evening of Dance Doc Shorts
3 p.m., FireHouse Arts and Events Center, 1314 Harris Ave.

The Documenting Grace film series shares the stories of dance artists on and off the stage. This evening of shorts presents three different short films about these stories. From the Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi to young dancers in Kigali, Rwanda, these films reflect on what dancing and the freedom that comes with it mean to these individuals. Info:

Monday, March 4

Maddog and Me: Bullying and the Power of Kindness
10 a.m., Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.

Dr. David Gonzalez teaches children about the power of kindness through his artful storytelling methods. Using both personal anecdotes and well-known, beloved tales, Gonzalez gives new perspectives on how to form relationships and encourage a sympathetic community. Join him as he takes you across his compelling and compassionate stories to inspire you to be a better participant in difficult situations. Info:

Tuesday, March 5

Demystify Vegan and Gluten-Free Baking
6:30–9 p.m., Community Food Co-op, 405 E. Holly St.

Katrina Fox takes this class through the basics of using alternative ingredients in recipes to make them vegan-friendly and gluten-free. Fox will teach the class how to choose the right ingredients based on the type of food you’re baking, as well as take you through how to bake carrot muffins and scones that you’ll be able to take home. Info:

Wednesday, March 6

Irish Whiskey Tasting Event
6–7 p.m., The Farmhouse Restaurant by Shawn O’Donnell’s, 13724 LaConner-Whitney Road, Mount Vernon

Whiskey enthusiast Jim Stephanson hosts a premium Irish whiskey tasting complete with four kinds of whiskey paired with complimentary appetizers from Chef Ivan. Sexton Single Malt and Kilbeggan Triple Cask are just two of the whiskeys that will be highlighted, along with the history behind each of the selected pours. Info:

FIG Artist’s Corner: Charley Harper
10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Lightcatcher Building, 250 Flora St.

Charley Harper’s modernist art is characterized by his use of striking colors to depict various animals using geometric shapes. In this interactive gallery, you can try to mimic this minimalist style in your own way while attempting to complete a mirrored image of different kinds of animals. Info:

Thursday, March 7

Are You Listening? A Special Benefit for Road2Home
6:30 p.m., Prospect Theatre, 207 Prospect St.

The award-winning film “The Case of Conrad Cooper” and music by SUGAR and Ruby Wright are at the forefront of this benefit in support of Road2Home, Gardenview Village Tiny Houses and Bellingham Winter Shelter. This film, music and conversation will help you have a deeper understanding of homelessness and its complex challenges. Info:

Friday, March 8

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

Celebrate and support the women and BIPOC artists featured in 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:

Theater Arts Guild Presents ‘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 9

Solarize Skagit
1 p.m., Museum of Northwest Art, 121 1st St., La Conner

Stop by MoNA for an educational solar workshop and a collaborative drawing event for all ages. Learn about how you can reduce your carbon footprint, and your electric bill, by converting to solar energy, then drop in to draw a surrealist tree with “Silva Cascadia” artist Kathleen Faulkner. Info:

David Syre: Moments Unveiled
11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Cordata Gallery, 465 W. Stuart Road

Catch the last day of local artist David Syre’s “Moments Unveiled” exhibit at Cordata Gallery. Syre’s artwork consists of paintings, drawings and watercolors, “pushing the boundaries of artistic expression.” His works combine colors, textures and symbolism in distinctive ways as they take you through a journey to learn about the world around us. Info:

Sunday, Mar. 10

Western Washington Berry Workshop
9 a.m. to 3 p.m., WSU Mount Vernon NWREC Auditorium, 16650 State Route 536

This workshop features 12 speakers from Washington State University, Oregon State University, the Washington Blueberry Commission and more to talk about several aspects of berry farming. They’ll cover everything from new research about berries and other small fruits to information about pests and insecticides, and even the Berry Smart Project at Sakuma Brothers Farm. Info:

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

The A-List appears weekly. To submit an event for consideration, email

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

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