Seattle director BJ Bullert, whose short film, “Space Needle” was in the 2020 festival, emailed us recently to say that she was planning a weekend trip to Bellingham and could we give her a few recommendations.  Bullert didn’t get to attend the festival in person because the pandemic caused us to pivot at the last minute and move the festival online.  (CASCADIA was one of the first festivals to do so.)

Coincidentally, Bellingham was the subject of writer Julie Weed’s travel piece in the NYTimes travel section.  She did a great job of covering the territory but we sent BJ some personal recommendations as well.

Bellingham is full of microbreweries, each with their own character and flavors. Any one of them is deserves stopping in for a brew. Boundary Bay Bistro and Brewery where CASCADIA hosts our welcome happy hour for our directors. Boundary Bay is a Bellingham institution co-owned by Janet Lightner and Ed Bennett who have also sponsored the festival since the beginning. Plus the award-winning microbrewery  has live music in the beer garden in summers.  Our closing night party found us at the Aslan Depot where we sampled their local brews over late night conversation.

Also in the downtown Arts District is Nomad, where CASCADIA had opening night party. It’s a wonderful charcuterie that is brand new. Nomad Chaucuterie and Wine makes you feel a bit like you’re in France and owner Frances Jones makes everyone feel welcome in her establishment located in Bellingham’s Flatiron building. Make sure to have her creamy chocolate mousse after one of their tasty chaucuterie boards or green salad. They serve a lengthy selection of wines carefully chosen by Frances and her co-owner husband Brian Kenney, a former chef for the Klimpton Hotel in Charlotte, N.C.

The SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention is well worth the visit, whether or not it’s raining. CASCADIA has had festival events there too. It’s one of Bellingham’s most visited attractions and unlike any other museum. Its collection of radios and electrical items is extensive and unique. And be sure to catch a show when the museum’s Director of Operations, Tana Granack, fires up the huge Tesla coil. It’s always a hit with our festival directors. The museum is right next door to the festival’s theatre, the independent Pickford Film Center.

CASCADIA 2019 directors at Boundary Bay Bistro

Directors at the 2019 film festival gathered at Boundary Bay Brewery with Executive Director Cheryl Crooks and CASCADIA President Amy McIlvaine.

Weed also suggests visiting the Whatcom Museum, a Smithsonian affiliated museum of art and history. The museum was the location for this year’s Honored Guest reception for director Martha Coolidge. Its rotating exhibits are always excellent. Afterwards, you can drop into the attached Bar Cicotti to sip a glass of wine or eat a bite in the courtyard. Jonathan Cicotti catered this year’s reception and also owns the popular Italian cafe, Storia Cucina around the corner. Both serve delicious Italian dishes with homemade pasta.

The Makeworth Market, which Weed mentions, was where this year’s Directors’ Party took place. Makeworth usually closes by 8 p.m. but CASCADIA took it over for its late night party and kept us and the corner hopping with music by DJ Aireekah of Glytter Life.

Old Town is a very popular place for breakfast, as the writer says, but another great spot for brunch is in the Chrysalis Inn at Keenan’s on the Pier. It’s where we hosted this year’s Directors’ Networking Brunch for our visiting directors. Not only is the food yummy but you can enjoy its view of the bay.

Bellingham is also home to wonderful bakeries. The Mount Bakery makes buttery, flaky croissants served to those attending our festival’s Script Studio this year. Our bakeries have generously supported the festival donating their signature baked goods for the writers, panelists and audience members at our Sunday morning Script Studio.  The Bagelry bakes bagels rivaling those of New York City, even without its famous water. Great Harvest Bread has berry scones that nearly melt in your mouth.  Jo Joe’s Doughnuts serves up giant handmade gourmet versions of the traditional pastries and has a line up at its door when the bakery opens.  The Community Food Coop’s bakery crafts an assortment of goodies made from scratch daily and shared some with us for Script Studio.

CASCADIA's Script Studio volunteers at the baked goods table.

Volunteers Robin Lynn Kagan and Cindy Schmidt served a selection of breakfast pastries and breads generously donated by local bakeries for CASCADIA’s Script Studio at the 2022 festival.

The Hotel Leo, where the Times writer stayed, is centrally located in downtown and around the corner from the Arts District which is alive with music clubs, restaurants and theaters in the evenings.  It was one of the festival’s hotel partners this year as was the Sheraton’s Four Points. The Four Points is located just outside of downtown close to the freeway and also a good choice for a weekend stay.  The Heliotrope Hotel was another hotel partner this year and is a boutique hotel tucked into a quiet neighborhood within walking distance of downtown. Be sure to let them know that CASCADIA sent you if you stay with them.

We’d love to welcome you to Bellingham for a weekend as Weed suggests but come join us for the festival next spring and enjoy not only our films by women directors but everything else our city and area has to offer!