Grays Harbor Tourism Announces 2014 Festival & Event Grant and Tourism Services & Project Grant Availability

The Grays Harbor County Department of Tourism is now accepting applications for the two tourism related grant programs. This first is for Festival and Event Grants, and the second is for Tourism Services and Projects. The deadline for applications for both categories is October 31, 2013.

Under State law (RCW 67.28) Grays Harbor County receives funds from room taxes imposed on lodging facilities. These funds can be retained and utilized by the County for Tourism promotional operations, or expended for projects and activities established by an eligible entity under State law.

Grays Harbor Tourism Grant Applications will be accepted from non-profit entities organizing tourism based activities within Grays Harbor County, except those municipalities that are allowed by law to collect and manage 3% lodging tax revenues generated within their corporate limits. Grant funding is provided increase tourism activity within Grays Harbor County. The Grays Harbor Tourism Department allocates over $120,000 in grant funds annually.

“We are very fortunate that our County Commissioners have continued to support the funding of this Grant Program. They understand that Tourism is vital to Grays Harbor’s economic success.” said Kelly Peterson-Lalka, GH Tourism Public Relations/Office Manager. “Tourism results in over $260 million dollars of revenue and over 5,000 jobs for Grays Harbor County. When we support tourism, our local communities reap the rewards in tax revenue, jobs and community infrastructure. It is a win-win.”

Applications for Grant Funding are available for download for Festivals and Events here, or Services and Projects here. If you would like an application mailed to you, contact Kelly Peterson-Lalka at 360-482-2651 or

Cranberry Festival Welcomes All!

GRAYLAND, WA – A full weekend of cranberry-themed events will fill the activity calendar on October 12 & 13 in the seaside town of Grayland in south Grays Harbor County.


“This October will be the 20th anniversary of the Cranberry Harvest Festival,” said Leslie Eichner, executive director of the Westport/Grayland Chamber of Commerce. “So, we’ve planned a big celebration to match the occasion.”


Both Saturday and Sunday are filled with food and fun events plus bus tours of the cranberry bogs and a fun run. If you’ve ever wondered where those tart red berries come from, and how they are harvested, this truly American festival is not to be missed,” Eichner added.


  • Early on Saturday, a cranberry breakfast is scheduled from 8 a.m. to noon at the South Beach Christian Center, located at 1360 SR 105, in Grayland.
  • Entertaining and informative bog tours that bring you face-to-face with the local growers will leave by bus throughout the weekend from the Grayland Community Hall & Cranberry Heritage Center. It’s located at 2071 Cranberry Rd., Grayland. Tickets are $7.50 per person.1
  • ‪The illuminated Firefly Parade rolls at 8 p.m., leaving from the Community Hall, traveling north along SR 105 and finishing at the Grayland Fire Hall.
  • The Community Hall is ground zero for the festival. Entries for the annual Cranberry Cook-Off are accepted until 8 p.m., Friday, October 11th. Medal award-winners will be on display there on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Taste local baked goods and check out local crafts at the Community Hall. Or, purchase a pass to taste the “cranberry bites” featuring a wide range of berry treats, available for sale on both Saturday and Sunday.
  • Sunday’s “Bog Jog” fun run begins at 9 a.m. at the Community Hall and is routed along the cranberry bogs to the Pacific Ocean Beaches. Run registration for the Bog Jog begins on Saturday from 2-4 p.m. and Sunday from 7-8:30 a.m.
  • Live music during the festival will be provided by Bob Gorton, Eileen Pinkerton and Virgil Stroeheon.


(Sidebar)“The cranberries that grow along the Washington coast are low, creeping shrubs or vines up to 7 ft. long and 2 to 8 in. in height. Grown in bogs that are flooded at harvest time, the cranberries have slender, wiry stems with small evergreen leaves and abundant fruit,” said Mike Bruner of Grays Harbor County Tourism. “The cool, damp weather along the coast is perfect for cranberry cultivation. It’s an usual and informative experience that is unique to Grayland.”


The Harvest Festival schedule of events and entertainment will be posted as updates happen.




Horns and Hooks Fishing Derby - Sep. 20-22, 2013
Horns and Hooks Fishing Derby – Sep. 20-22, 2013
The Northwest’s premier outdoor adventure magazine – Horns and Hooks – in conjunction with Y.O.U. (Youth Outdoors Unlimited) will be having it’s annual fishing derby September 20th through the 22nd in Grays Harbor Bay.

Tickets are available in advance at Horns and Hooks in Montesano, all Dennis Company locations, and Harbor Saw and Supply. Tickets will be available the day of the event at the Westport, Johns River, and 28th Street launch locations. Daily tickets will be sold at $10 per day and $20 for a three day pass.

Families of all ages are encouraged to attend while volunteers and potential sponsors are encouraged to contact Horns and Hooks to contribute to the event.

Horns and Hooks hosts this annual derby to promote and encourage sport fishing in Grays Harbor while benefiting children with life threatening conditions. Cash and prizes will be given away on all three days and part of the events proceeds will go directly to Youth Outdoors Unlimited.

Saturday will spotlight the Y.O.U. Kids as they are taken fishing by volunteer guides for the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoor experience that Grays Harbor has to offer.

To volunteer your time to the event please contact Horns and Hooks.

For information regarding youth outdoors unlimited please contact them at

Horns and Hooks would like to thank everyone involved including: North Fork Customs, Verle’s, U.S. Marine, The Islander, Deep Sea Charters, Willapa Marine, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Ocean Crest Resort, and Grays Harbor Tourism.

Horns and Hooks Retail Location: 100 W. Brumfield Ave. Suite #4 Montesano WA, 98563

Sunset Magazine Honors Seabrook with the 2013 Idea Town

Sunset Magazine discovers Grays Harbor’s “Hidden Coast”


When I was a kid living in California, my parents subscribed to Sunset magazine, which became my window on Western living. I poured over the pages of interesting homes and staged gardens with the relish of a design-starved youth. Nowhere in my working-class neighborhood could I find the striking architecture, seemly design and chic-but-casual outdoor entertaining that the long-established lifestyle magazine promoted in its inspirational editorial spreads.


Sunset is Western America’s largest-circulation regional magazine with a circulation of more than one million.  Each monthly issue is devoted to four subject areas: Travel, gardening, food and home design. A staff of editors and writers based in Menlo Park, California tastefully captures life in the West.


So, it is with some personal delight that Sunset selected the Seabrook community in Grays Harbor’s Pacific Beach to be the 2013 Idea Town. Each year the publication chooses an outstanding architectural project to profile — and this year it helps to disprove the location’s Hidden Coast moniker. The Seabrook community is unique within the state for its Cape Cod beach-village concept.  The 2013 Sunset Idea Houses at Seabrook includes two handsome homes with courtyard guest cottages and extensive outdoor living areas.


Visitors will discover casual and innovative design ideas as they tour the ocean-view houses, which represent a microcosm of the larger community-focused, pedestrian-friendly town.


I chatted with one of the Seabrook representatives, Ivo Andov, who said: “Sunset magazine is one of the few publications that understands the direction new towns and neighborhoods are headed. The main reason they chose Seabrook for their first-ever Idea Town, was the unique link the homes will have with the rest of the community we’re building on the coast. Our growing town aims to be nearly car-less. All the main necessities at Seabrook are located within a 5-minute walk. This is a very sustainable aspect of Sunset’s Idea Town and re-introduces a concept that we once cherished.


The way the Sunset Idea Houses were designed is a unique approach to community living in Grays Harbor County. The main houses, carriage houses and additional buildings create a mini-compound where multi-generational families can spend quality time together while enjoying the right amount of privacy. This is right in line with Seabrook’s design goals of creating a community where guests and residents create traditions that stand the test of time while interacting daily with their neighbors. The Sunset Idea Houses will provide the perfect mix of traditional and modern architecture, outdoor courtyard living and sustainability.”


If you go, Sunset magazine’s Idea Town at Seabrook is located at 4275 SR 109, Pacific Beach, WA 98571, 18 miles north of Ocean Shores on SR 109 in Grays Harbor County.   The Sunset Ideas Houses will be available to tour from 10 am – 5 pm as follows:

Aug. 2 – 4, Friday – Sunday;

August 9-12, Friday – Monday;

August 15 – September 16, Thursday – Monday;

September 20 – October 27, Friday – Sunday


Cost:  Adults, $17, with a portion of proceeds going to the Seabrook Community Foundation.  For more information visit


“Unforgettable” Marketing Campaign Offers Success for Grays Harbor County Tourism – campaign focuses on outdoor adventurists in 2013

ELMA, WA – As sure as spring flowers bloom and trees bud, a new marketing campaign promoting tourism in Grays Harbor County launches. This year’s advertising is a further execution of the well-established “unforgettable” theme with a few new twists.

“Our advertising efforts this year are focused on keeping our top-of-mind awareness among Washington visitors through television, print and the Internet,” said Mike Bruner, director of the Grays Harbor County Tourism office. “Especially now that it is spring, visitors like to engage in outdoor activities such hiking, biking, birding, fishing, boating plus clam digging. We introduce the concept that, indeed, nature plays favorites with many activities existing in once place at one time. It also ties in well with the outdoor-adventure seasons.”

Aided by a small promotional budget financed by the local 3% hotel and motel tax, Grays Harbor County has tapped tourist dollars with cable television, Internet information, a four-color ad in the Washington State Visitors’ Guide and increased public relations and social media efforts.

“We really don’t have a huge budget compared to some other destination marketing organizations,” said Bruner. “We must think and plan a lot more creatively with our media and public relations efforts. The mix includes cable TV, on-air broadcast TV and selected spots on outdoor sports programming. It fits with the off-season demographic we are targeting.”

Despite a decline in the local economy and a national turndown in tourism, Grays Harbor enjoyed an increase in overnight stays during 2012. This was helped by events such as the Outdoor Adventure and Travel Expo at the fairgrounds in the spring. Overall, income from the Grays Harbor County Fair also was also up. The fair enjoyed its best year ever with hopes to continue the success this summer.

“Grays Harbor travel is very individual,” said Bruner. “The county previously did promotions with radio and direct mail that just kept us in place. We weren’t sure if we could do much to improve the outcome. Now, we are convinced we made the right media moves which have resulted in an increase in tax revenue.”

An updated tourism website, a larger social media strategy and new television commercials supporting local events were the centerpiece of the marketing campaign. The successful ideas are carried over and expanded in the 2013 tourist season.

“Generally speaking, travelers to Grays Harbor County are individualists. Some are teachers, beachcombers, photographers, hunters, anglers, thrill and curiosity seekers, and clamming aficionados. Our marketing and public relations efforts need to tap into that adventure-travel segment.”

“We have a sense of awe and respect for the raw power of nature and the outdoors,” continued Bruner. “It’s a great thrill to share this Grays Harbor experience with others.”

“Like the rest of the Pacific coast, our county is usually cold and wet in the winter,” Bruner says. “But, you can sit behind a window and watch brewing storms and reeling birds, white-capped waves or take just a brief stroll on the beach to see what treasures the waves have stirred up. Then, you understand the magnetic draw that ocean storms have out here. We love it,” he said.

“Challenging weather always seems to attract hearty souls and adventurers who enjoy the thundering surf as they dig for the abundant shellfish,” said Bruner. “Many families make the drive to the coast for a weekend excursion that everyone can afford and enjoy. The clam digging is fun, the surf is exciting, and the freshly harvested razor clams taste great.”

For more information on winter tourism and accommodations, visit Grays Harbor Tourism at

Elma Heat on the Street Car Show

Got a hot rod you want to show off? Or do you wish you did? Then don’t miss the 5th annual “Heat on the Street” Custom Car & Motorcycle Show hosted by the Elma Chamber of Commerce, Saturday, August 3rd.

The show actually begins with a Cruise-In on Friday night, August 2nd. Generously hosted by Jason Olsen and family, the Cruise-In takes place at the Edward Jones parking lot beginning at 6:00 p.m. All participants registering cars will be treated to hot dogs, soft drinks, and entertainment. The first 100 receive an official Cruise-In dash plaque. Plus, new this year, the event includes a poker run with the chance to win big prizes!

Saturday, the Show & Shine runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and takes place on Main Street in Elma, showcasing cards in the best parking in town! The show includes awards, music, raffle, vendors, food, beer garden and more. For only $10 the first 250 pre-registered vehicles receive T-shirts, dash plaques, Grays Harbor Raceway ticket, raffle ticket and other goodies. Public Admission to the car show is free.
Thanks to Cut Rate Auto Parts, City of Elma, and Grays Harbor Tourism for sponsoring this event. For more information visit or call 360-482-3055. See you there!

Grays Harbor – Wonderland


April 22, 2013

By:  Terry LaBrue, APR


When the weather changes in May and the buds burst into spring color, Grays Harbor transforms into a wonderland. It’s a wonder of bucolic scenery and a wonder why it remains undiscovered.


Many of our friends and acquaintances tell us how they vacationed on the Central Washington coast when they were kids. But now, they find other places for getaways. Why? Indeed, the country leading west of Olympia on SR 12 might have missed the consciousness of newcomers but Grays Harbor County is the number-one rural destination in the state.


It’s been nearly twenty years since I’ve been writing about Grays Harbor. First, my focus was on the fishing villages on the South Beach, home of the largest sport fishing fleet on the West coast. Not being much of an angler, however, and subject to unfortunate bouts of seasickness, I tend to keep planted on terra firma. But the South Beach area has plenty of activities in the spring including the World-Class Crab Races, the Clean Water Surf Competition and the nautical Rusty Scupper’s Pirate Daze.


Next, I began documenting the activities and events on the North Beach. I got to know Tom Hyde, who was then the publisher and editor of the North Beach Bulletin.

Together we covered the clam digs, the Museum of the North Beach and the Ocean Crest Resort, the venerable lodge and culinary standout between Moclips and Pacific Beach.


Without these opportunities, my decade-long coastal forays would have robbed my family and me of unforgettable memories. Where else would travelers experience the grandeur of the Olympic National Park, serene Lake Quinault, historic lighthouses and accessible salt- and freshwater fishing? We enjoy Grays Harbor County in all its seasons but spring bestows a special charm.


I have had many conversations over delightful lunches in Elma with the staff at Grays Harbor Tourism. The question of why people travel to Oregon beaches often arises.


People who live in Western Washington are surprised to explore a grand variety of sites and experiences they can enjoy in their own backyard – within a few hours’ drive of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett. The coastline north of Ocean Shore along SR 109 is as picturesque as more popular coastal routes in other states. And, the winding two-lane highway is devoid of much of the traffic that clogs US 101.


With warmer spring weather here and dozens of festivals and local events on the activity calendar, Grays Harbor satisfies the seasonal itch to get out and explore.

Grays Harbor Is A Sportsman’s Paradise

Outdoor Adventure in Grays Harbor County Goes from Mild to Wild

The paths and trails of Grays Harbor County are prime year-round destinations for visitors that want a gentle outdoor experience or something more adventurous.

In the “Guide to Walks and Trails of Grays Harbor County,” an informative and easy-to-read directory captures the unique landscapes of the area. With a host of suggested picturesque routes located across the county, from Lake Quinault to the Capitol State Forest, there is a path for every adventurer.  The guide is a useful tool for visitors searching for a relaxing walk, scenic exercise, family-friendly trecks or those seeking a challenge on steeper terrain. This guide offers outings through forested lands, the famed temperate rain forests, coastal estuaries, urban walks and relaxing riverside strolls.  The free, four-color guide is available through the Grays Harbor Tourism office in Elma.

Grays Harbor is also the destination for unforgettable hunting and fishing adventures. As waterfowl hunting moves into its close, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officials say this season may have offered the best opportunity in more than 50 years.  Next season may promise the same.  Waterfowl biologists have reported the best fall flights of migrating ducks since 1955,” said Greg Schirato, deputy director of WDFW’s Wildlife Program. “The opportunities haven’t been this good in most hunters’ lifetimes.”  Schirato said the bounty this season was due to good rainfall in northern waterfowl breeding grounds last summer, as well as favorable conditions here for duck and goose production. The abundance of birds made this a good season for waterfowl hunters to introduce newcomers to the sport, he said.  Hopefully this trend continues and the 2012-13 waterfall season will offer the same opportunities.

WDFW has launched a new waterfowl hunting feature on its website at to offer information for new or returning waterfowl hunters, ranging from the basics of duck and goose identification to details on hunting locations, equipment, licensing requirements and handling harvested waterfowl.

The department has also been working to provide additional places to hunt on state-managed lands and is working with landowners to open private lands to hunting within the county. Waterfowl hunting success traditionally increases as the season progresses with influxes of migrant birds and added hunting days.

If you’re an angler and enjoy testing your luck on the water, early season reports have Grays Harbor rivers producing strong numbers of stealhead this winter, as well.  The Satsop, Wynooche, upper Chehalis, Humptulips and Quinault River systems have reported stretches of good fishing. The best numbers are being reported as rivers begin to fall from high water levels.  A state record catch is only one cast away!