Bainbridge Island’s Quirkiest Parade – The Scotch-Broom Parade 2023

Whether you’re a long-time islander or a recent arrival, you probably know that here on Bainbridge, we have no shortage of fun things to do, see and explore, including the odd and quirky.

2023 Scotchbroom Parade Co-Queens - Cat Thompson and Jessica Perkins
2023 Scotchbroom Parade Co-Queens – Cat Thompson and Jessica Perkins

It was the early 1960s, when Bainbridge Island was barely a blip on the “tourist” radar, Kiwanis member John Rudolph was contacted by someone putting together a Washington State Guide on festivals and fairs throughout the state. Without missing a beat, Rudolph made something up – he called it the Scotch-Broom Festival, jokingly espousing a celebration around one of the most noxious weed species in Washington State. Of course, there was no such festival, and then there was…

Some months later, someone came to the island on the supposed “day of” the festival and asked around, wondering where and when it was.  Just like before, Rudolph didn’t miss a beat and within the hour he’d managed to gather a large group of participants, filling the streets of Downtown Winslow with weed-waving revelers.

So, what is it? It’s a spontaneous parade and (sort of) festival, it’s silly, light-hearted and a lot of fun. It starts off with a tiddlywinks match, a newly crowned queen or queens, a parade, and a lot of Scotch-broom.

The festival has, for the most part, has been considered an “underground” event, there’s little to no advance notice, but there’s always a fun crowd of island residents in attendance.

As Michael Schrader, teen director of the BI Boys and Girls Club (a previous year’s Scotch-broom organizer) noted in a past interview with the Bainbridge Review, “It’s definitely not a parade. It’s not actually an event. Because it’s kind of like more of a flash mob format…”

2023 Scotchbroom Parade - Cat ThompsonMickey Molnaire, former Director of Member and Visitor Services at the Chamber of Commerce told us last year, “It’s fun to have an event that’s purposely not publicized.”  Mickey’s late husband Ron Konzak was one of the original co-creators. Mickey was also a past queen of the parade, and said “the queen is randomly grabbed out the crowd” on the street.

This year Jessica Perkins, Vice President of Community Engagement of the Chamber of Commerce and Cat Thompson of the Bainbridge Island Boys & Girls Club were crowned “parade queens”.  Bodie Strom also participated, driving his mom, Tara Strom’s, 1961 Corvette.

2023 Scotchbroom Parade - Jessica Perkins and Bodie Strom“It’s such a pleasure to be this year’s Scotch-broom co-queen,” said Jessica. “I’ve been waiting for this moment ever since I moved here 13 years ago,” she continued jokingly.

It happens each year around mid-to-late May, if you’d like to attend and/or participate next year, keep your ears and eyes open and get there on time, because it happens fast and its gone as quickly as it comes.

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