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Spirits return to Concrete

CONCRETE — The ghost of the wife of Henry Thompson, one of the area’s early luminaries, has been known to haunt the bridge over the Baker River that carries his name. In fact, Margaret Thompson can be counted on to make an appearance Saturdays in October, starting Oct. 1.

This spirit and some others are the main attractions of the Concrete Ghost Walk, now in its sixth year.

The event has been successful since it debuted to a larger-than-expected crowd in 2006.

“We’re delighted that so many people come to Concrete for this event each year,” Concrete Chamber of Commerce President Valerie Stafford said.

Another seasonal focus for event planners in eastern Skagit County is the fourth annual Fall Color Festival, a celebration of autumn to be held Oct. 8-9.

Promotion for the fall festival is more understated this year. Missing is the tagline used in previous years, “The Magic 30 Miles” of North Cascades Highway, with its landscapes and places to visit.

Part of the reason for the low-key feel leading up to the event is that two of the three wineries that have participated in the past won’t be a part of the festival this year, Stafford said. Eagle Haven Winery is hosting a private event, and Glacier Peak Winery is preparing to reopen under new ownership, she said.

Challenger Ridge, the one winery that is open to the public during the festival, handles its own publicity, she added.

“I know that these three wineries have benefited from our marketing in the past — they’ve told us that it’s often the best weekend of their year — but right now they seem busy enough without any additional advertising,” Stafford wrote in an email.

In addition to Challenger Ridge’s annual Harvest and Crush Party on Oct. 8, the Fall Color Festival includes a daylong photography workshop that Saturday and a performance by singer-songwriter and festival veteran Dana Lyons on Sunday.

As for the Ghost Walk, Concrete will be in the full spirit of that event. The town is full of believers.

Some business owners and employees insist the buildings where they work are haunted. People who attend a ghost walk will hear about “inexplicable phenomena reported by current residents
and building owners,” a news release for the event said.

Some buildings in town have been investigated and certified as haunted by the Washington State Ghost Society (www.washingtonstateghostsociety.com). Joanie Johnson, a previous owner of the Concrete Theatre — the Ghost Walk’s first stop — was convinced the theater had four ghosts.

Another well-known Concrete ghost is that of a young girl who drowned long ago in the Baker River. There was evidence of her presence — a tar footprint — inside the Concrete Heritage Museum.

Ghost Walk participants will hear some of this history and legend during a presentation at the Concrete Theatre, followed by the tour of the ghosts that haunt Main Street.

Here’s a spoiler: The ghosts are actually town residents in costume.

“All the volunteers involved are proud to share the history and ‘spirit’ of our community,” Stafford said.

Concrete Ghost Walk
When: 6 p.m. Saturdays, Oct. 1-29
Where: Starts at Concrete Theatre, 45920 Main St.
Features: Concrete history as described by ghosts of town’s past; discussion of present-day hauntings
Cost: Advance reservations required; send $10 to Concrete Chamber of Commerce,
P.O. Box 743, Concrete, WA 98237.
Restrictions: 13 and older only; be prepared to walk one hour or more, rain or shine
Information: 360-853-8784 or concrete .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Fall Color Festival
What: Fall Color Festival
When: Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 8-9
Where: Photo workshop and concert at Concrete Theatre, 45920 Main St.; Harvest and Crush Party at Challenger Ridge Winery, 43095 Challenger Road
Features: Saturday — Fall Color Photo Workshop, 8 a.m. to sunset; Crush Party, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday — Dana Lyons concert, 3 p.m.
Cost: Photo workshop, $35/$50 couple/$10 ages 16 and older. Crush Party, $35/$15 ages 6 to 12/free 5 and under. Concert, $10/$12 at door
Information: concrete-wa.com; challengerridge.com