New Brickworks stage a centerpiece for Friday Harbor

The concept of a ‘Town Square’ in Friday Harbor just got a major boost last week when Brickworks Event Center held a two night musical event Wednesday and Thursday evening to celebrate their new stage.

The new stage compliments the existing Brickworks Event Center while providing a dramatically improved music venue for musical acts to perform.

Calling it Sunshine Plaza, located in Sunshine Alley, the reconstruction of the Brickworks building was the first major initiative by the San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild to re-purpose an historic property in the heart of Friday Harbor.

With generous donations from the community totaling over $150k, along with over 1000 hours of volunteer labor, Brickworks completed the new event stage as the first phase of planned improvements to Sunshine Plaza. According the Agricultural Guild ‘Phase 2’ will include covered market stalls, an entryway arch and public art. The hope is to complete Phase 2 by spring 2024.

Peter Kilpatrick who produced the design and plan set, and donated hundreds and hundreds of hours to the project, was beaming Thursday night as local musicians took to his new stage to perform to an enthusiastic standing room only audience.

“It all started with the finish of Brickworks, which was just about 10 years ago,” said Kilpatrick. “There was this vision that the Ag Guild would turn this into a permanent farmers market. An amazing vision that was achieved. We opened the doors for the first time 10 years ago. But it was always the intention that it was a bigger vision that the Ag Guild had, which included a stage.”

Kilpatrick and his team installed a temporary stage back then, thinking it would last maybe six months. “While the intention was a couple of months, maybe six months, here we are ten years later. And the whole time I kept thinking about it, and thinking about it.”

“We really needed a nice stage in Friday Harbor to kind of keep up with what Orcas had done. So one year ago I approached the Ag Guild with the proposal that I would build the stage as volunteer, if we can fundraise for the materials and with the understanding that I would like to design it. So that was kind of a qualifier. I had kind of visions and so they accepted my free partner offer.”

“At that point we formed an action committee with Candace Jagel, Sarah Pope, Tanya Micheletti, and Lars, who’s the manager of Brickworks, and we started strategizing about how are we going to raise that money. And I’d say as as a group, like most people, we were kind of intimidated by the whole process of fundraising, because there’s so many people fundraising.”

“We came up with a mailer, information and some early CAD images and just like sowing seeds, we sent those flyers out and requested donations with personal notes, and money started coming back in pretty quickly. It was really impressive.”

“I think the first check we received was a check from some old clients of mine for $10,000, right off the bat. So that was encouraging,” said Kilpatrick. “And it continued, again and again. Then with the $50,000 donation from the Honeywells I was able to order my big package of materials, timbers.”

“Then I put the word out that it was going to be a volunteer project, and had a few of my friends that I’ve worked with in mind. So a lot of volunteers showed up for a little bit, some volunteers showed up every day.”

Kilpatrick beamed as he listed off a few key volunteers for the project, including Tom Pence “Who is just super volunteer,” Kilpatrick says. “He just spends his life volunteering. He’s always happy and ready to do anything. Elliott Burch, he’s a neighbor and friend of mine who pretty much came here full time and has experience as a timber framer. And my son Adrian who was indispensable. And then Barry Bartmaster who is a retired landscaper. He not only jumped in as a carpenter and did everything, but then brought it all home with doing landscaping and all the irrigation, and put in a ton of time volunteering.”

While fundraising for Phase 2 has begun, Kilpatrick is pleased with the results so far and truly hopes the project becomes a centerpiece everyone can be proud of in Friday Harbor.