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Kolby LaBree: Co-owner of the Good Time Girls

CDN's weekly community profile

Kolby LaBree poses June 4 inside Sycamore Square, one of the most haunted spots in Fairhaven, according to LaBree. (Eli Voorhies/Cascadia Daily News)
By Cocoa Laney Staff reporter

Kolby LaBree (she/her)

Age: 50

City: Bellingham

Lived here for: 50 years (minus a few in the middle)

Originally from: Bellingham

Notable: Co-owner of the Good Time Girls (guided historical walking tour company), tour guide, researcher, podcaster and collector of impressive period costumes.

You have a degree in anthropology and a background in historic preservation. What’s your preferred area of research?

It’s anything fringe, counterculture. I definitely come out of performing arts, so I like anything like Vaudeville, circus; I love art, literature, history around those things. Or LGBTQ+ history; a lot of groups around the margins, as you might say. That’s always been sort of my favorite thing to research.

Good Time Girls tours are informative, but they're also entertaining. How do you approach the overlap between history and performance?

I’m not a fan of, like, straight historical reenactment. I just find that really corny. But I do think that history is stories at heart, and it can be really hard to take it down and distill it to what actually happened, because it’s always going to be through various lenses of our own.

I just tried to embrace the stories of it, and just acknowledge that we’re always kind of learning new things and the story evolves over time … Going out on a tour in a costume and, you know, being funny about it is definitely performing. It’s a lot of energy. It’s very similar to doing something on stage.

Do you have a personal favorite bit of Bellingham trivia?

I guess the one that comes to mind most is how much cows were a part of life at the birth of our town. When the museum was first built as City Hall … the first order of business was around the hot topic of cows roaming the streets. And then, when the towns on the bay merged and actually, officially became Bellingham in 1903, someone wrote a snarky letter to the paper suggesting that the town be actually called ‘Cow-Bellingham.’

The Good Time Girls also has a podcast covering eclectic local history, or whatever topic you’re 'obsessed with at the moment.' What topic is that right now?

Right now I’m working on tattoos … which is, I will say, one of the hardest topics to get out and research. Harder than sex workers, harder than criminals. You know, there’s a lot of groups that don’t necessarily leave a paper trail and tattoo artists are surprisingly difficult to find. 

Do audiences ever have personal connections to the stories you tell?

One woman remembered that her grandmother had seen Billy Sunday, an evangelical preacher who we talk about on our ‘Sin and Gin’ tour downtown. He came to Bellingham in 1910 and it was a very big deal. And she had this family lore about it … It’s pretty rare to get people with these, like, generational stories, but I love that.

Have you discovered anything about yourself through this work?

Yes! It’s kind of funny because I was doing research on the Prohibition era … That brick building on C Street and Holly, there was an Italian grocery store in there that was functioning as a speakeasy. And so I found out that my great-grandfather was busted in a raid on that place because he was Canadian and supplying them with some of their booze. No one in my family knew that story, or had ever heard it!

“Faces in the Crowd” is published online and in print Fridays. Have a suggestion for a “Faces
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