We do festivals and events all the time, but one of our favorites each year is Doe Bay Fest, located on Orcas Island every second week of August.
For those who look forward to camping, great music, little cell phone reception and a retreat to one of the most beautiful places you can find, Doe Bay Fest is the ideal place to visit.
With the seventh annual Fest happening this past weekend, Caffe Vita served coffee and took in the wonderful sights and sounds, enjoying a weekend full of music and happiness.
It might not be summer camp, but with hot tubs, spas, two stages, a view like no other, cliffs to dive from, incredible music and an intimate atmosphere, Doe Bay Fest might just be the adult version of experiencing summer like they used to as a kid.
And because we loved attending Doe Bay Fest so much, we’re giving you the story about how it went down.
While some of the Caffe Vita crew went up to Orcas Island on Wednesday afternoon and got in later that evening, pulling an all-nighter for setup and installation of the two serving tents, the majority of our group left early Thursday morning—as in, a 4:45am wakeup call early.
Taking the ferry to the island was amazing, with a nice breeze coming in as the gray skies provided small raindrops, a nice break from the mid-80s that have been baking Seattle recently.
Arriving on Orcas Island was like arriving at one of the most pristine vacation spots a person could go to.
Sunshine accompanied by big, puffy clouds, all hovering over water and bays at every turn made this a personal paradise.
Getting to Doe Bay, we immediately took in the scenery that was around our camp sight. This included a cabin with a deck for all of us to hangout on, a picnic table to eat meals on and, naturally, some areas for tents to actually sleep in. Occasional guests like deer, stopped by our campsite to graze.
In addition to the camping area, we walked the grounds to discover some of the other majestic views Doe Bay had to offer like the hot tubs overlooking the bay, the beach and the point that was used as a platform diving board throughout the weekend.
And while the grounds were gorgeous, everyone was at Doe Bay Fest for one reason—the love of good music.
With Thursday not having anything scheduled—other than mini, impromptu jam sessions—us Vita folks played and sang music while making tacos, getting to know each other better and laughing way too often.
The following morning was the first day of scheduled music, and there were some amazing bands that took both the Big Field and smaller Otter Cove stages.
Bigfoot Wallace & His Wicked Sons kicked off the weekend on the main stage, getting the crowd prepped for what was going to be a great day of tunes and, thanks to the warm, sunny weather, there wasn’t a care in the world.
Next, Industrial Revelation played a funky jazz set. This was a great show for all of us a Vita because Evan Flory-Barnes, the older brother of our charismatic trainer Elena, plays in the band.
A few of our group had met and seen Evan and his band mates before, and, personally speaking, I was blown away with their performance.
The energy that they brought to the crowd was absolutely insane, as they called fans to come to the front of the stage to jam out and dance around to their final song which, no doubt, left everyone in a frenzy.
LEGS were the act that followed, brought an amazing sound that kept fans on their feet to dance around.
This band also featured three siblings playing together—lead singer Jack Ramsey, keyboardist Tito Ramsey and fill-in bassist for Doe Bay Lydia Ramsey.
Friday night continued great music throughout, as the Vita crew made its way towards a big, family-style dinner at our campsite with friends we had met from the previous days.
Serving up a delicious, home-cooked meal probably isn’t in the guide to camping camping, but if you know anything about Caffe Vita, we do things a bit out of the box, so a homemade pasta with vegetable and tomato sauce was perfect for our hungry crew.
Following dinner, we scattered around the festival, listening to the many mini shows going on beneath trees and around benches before scurrying into the packed yoga studio for the DJ shows by Bruce Pavitt and Michele Myers.
To say this turned wild would be an understatement, as both DJs played popular songs filled with funky beats by artists like Prince, James Brown and a few mash-ups that hadn’t been heard before.
Yes, we all left very sweaty from dancing and singing.
The remainder of the night included mingling with artists and festivalgoers down on the beach, enjoying a few drinks and talking about the weekend up to that point, and, eventually, a spur of the moment interview with Friday’s headliner Cody ChestnuTT in the artist house.
Saturday started with a drive and then walk of the nearby Mt. Constitution, which has one of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen.
Overlooking a number of different areas, one can’t help but take picture after picture of the water and mountains that it looks down on.
We also went swimming in Cold Springs Lake, which actually wasn’t as cold as the name itself suggests.
Returning to the actual festival, the rest of the day was filled with even more terrific acts like reggae group Wet City Rockers, Mirah and You Me & Apollo, among others, who brought varying styles of music that, ignited the crowd.
We then returned to our campsite for yet another family dinner, with Ross Beamish and Erika Locatelli making roasted beef and mashed potatoes for everyone to enjoy.
That included some of the picky eaters and/or vegetarians in the group, who couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least take a nibble of the deliciousness that was on everyone’s plates.
With an additional 8-10 people joining Vita for dinner, drinks, music and conversation, it was clear that our campsite was, as usual, the place to hang out for the weekend.
After dinner, we, once again, made our way towards the yoga studio for the private DJ sets.
Unlike the night prior, though, the word must have leaked out about how fun these were, as only a few of us were able to get in.
That didn’t last too long for those who did go, though, as Vita’s Maggie Tweedy was playing on a nearby deck with the band Quiet Life, who played their Americana music to great reception, while Maggie helped provide the accompanying sounds on her fiddle.
As Sunday morning came, it was apparent that the long days still hadn’t taken a toll on any of us, as we continued to be amazed at all that was going on.
A great breakfast with a few friends at the Doe Bay Café, some more swimming, a jump off the point into the ice cold bay water, some spa time, reading and, of course, selling coffee all happened.
As mentioned above, Doe Bay is like an adult summer camp, except there aren’t counselors around to give anyone an agenda, so the vibe remains peaceful and relaxing.
With no performances scheduled on Sunday, there were pockets of music going on around the festival as fans scattered around and said their goodbyes, hoping to catch one of the late ferries back to Anacortes.
Before we left, we made sure to get one last group dinner together, returning to the Doe Bay Café, where we toasted to good times that occurred all weekend long.
As several Vita people left late Sunday night, the remaining crew kept things fairly low key the rest of the night, sitting around the campsite playing games like “Telephone,”— the same game one typically plays in middle school—which brought plenty of laughs to the group of 12 that were playing.
Monday finally had come and we were left cleaning up the mess and packing up our duffle bags, all hoping to make a mid-afternoon ferry together—bad idea.
Turns out that everyone had the same plan, and a few of us were left waiting in the parking lot to board the boat for several hours.
Hell, I was lucky enough to run into a new friend that Vita had met over the weekend—Tyler Gaston of Portland restaurant, Olympic Provisions—bumming a ride with him to make sure I got back to Vita’s offices that day.
But even the delay in traveling didn’t put a damper on the weekend, as the remaining Vita group sat on blankets, played music and drank some whisky, which, as you can probably tell by now, was what this year’s Doe Bay Fest was all about.