Chelan, Washington – Summertime Fun and Great Music!

July 2022 – Our first foray into the Lake Chelan area was our delightful ferry ride from the lake’s southern end to the hidden jewel of Stehekin at the northern tip. Where Stehekin is picturesque and intimate in the remote northern end, the town of Chelan on the lake’s southern shore spills over with a happy summertime beach vibe as locals and vacationing visitors play on the water and relax in the sun.

Lake Chelan in Chelan Washington - Summer fun!

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Lake Chelan is a huge lake, and when the sun is at the right angle it is a rich blue. Pretty homes line the shores.

Lake Chelan in Washington

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This is the heart of Washington’s fruit country. Apple and cherry orchards and beautiful vineyards dot the hillsides in every direction.

Orchards on the hillsides on Lake Chelan in Washington

There are fruit orchards and vineyards in the hillsides!

Lake Chelan with vineyard backdrop in Chelan Washington

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The historic district of Chelan was all dressed up with a summertime flare when we arrived. Flower baskets hung from the lamp posts, and popular restaurants offered outside dining.

Chelan Washington has many pretty buildings

The town of Chelan has a small historic district with pretty buildings.

Breakfast eatery in 00 481 Harpist Ellen Foster performs at Bach Fest 2022 in Chelan Washington

A breakfast bar on the patio – Nice!

Gorgeous hydrangeas were in full bloom, and we spotted the large bushes covered with enormous blue and lavender blossoms all around town.

Hydrangeas

These flowers are hug!

Down at the town beach we watched young girls doing cartwheels in the sand. But it was the Chelan Riverwalk Park that drew us back and back again.

Similar to the Idaho Falls River Walk, both sides of the Lake Chelan have been tamed with lovely landscaping in between two bridges, so you can walk a full loop on paved paths next to the water.

Lake Chelan in Chelan Washington

The Riverwalk meanders along the banks of Lake Chelan right above the dam.

River Walk and Riverwalk Pavilion Chelan Washington

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We came across lots of animals along Chelan’s Riverwalk. This is a great place to walk a dog or meet someone else’s a dog if you are dogless. A golden retriever was showered with love and pets from a group of kids he’d just met.

Kids pet a golden retriever Chelan Washington

Dog love.

There are Wild Animals on Chelan’s Riverwalk too. When I turned a corner I noticed a duck watching me closely. A few other ducks were lazing away the morning next to her. The water is so clear in this lake that I could easily see the rocks below the surface behind her.

Ducks on the edge of Lake Chelan in Chelan Washington

A duck checks me out.

Suddenly, an adorable duckling swam past. No wonder mom was keeping an eye on me!

Duckling on Lake Chelan in Chelan Washington

So that’s why mama duck was worried about me!

There’s another kind of animal that lurks on Lake Chelan — the Party Animal! These scantily clad animals were out in droves, cruising around on speedboats, jetskis, kayaks and paddle boards.

Hot bods on fast boat on Lake Chelan in Washington

Party Animals!

Paddleboards and dogs on Lake Chelan in Washington

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Chelan is a music lover’s town, and Mark soon found an electric guitar that was just begging to be played.

Chelan Washington is a musical town

Chelan has a musical streak.

As I was thumbing through the internet one day, wondering what kinds of organized activities might be going on in Chelan, I saw the words, “Bach Fest.”

Really? There was Bach music festival in a small rural lakeside town in Washington?!! As a total classical music junkie, this was right up my alley!

I dove in deeper and discovered that Bach Fest is a ten day long music festival that has been a beloved tradition in Chelan for 41 years, and we’d arrived in town right in the middle of it!

Throughout this ten day festival, musicians perform classical music (from baroque to modern) in all kinds of venues, all for free! Churches and courtyards host various chamber music groups during the mornings and noontime hour and vineyards showcase chamber music performances every evening.

The first event we saw was a noontime concert in a church that featured a chamber group and four vocalists performing a wonderful Bach Cantata.

Bachfest Bach Cantate Chelan Washington

Bach Fest is a 10 day classical music celebration that takes place in Chelan, Washington.

Another morning we took part in an unusual “Riverwalk Sip and Stroll” where music lovers wandered along the river paths and town streets, sipping their morning coffee and encountering lovely music being played in various spots along the way.

As we walked along the river banks, we heard a violin soloist playing with great passion in the Riverwalk Pavillion…

Chelan Washington Bach Fest violinist the Riverwalk Pavilion

During the Bach Fest “Riverwalk Sip and Stroll” a solo violinist chose a spot to play in the pavilion.

When we wandered up into the streets of town, we heard the melodic strains of a harp! We turned a corner and there was a harpist playing in a church courtyard.

How often do you walk around town with your morning coffee and come across a person playing the harp?

Harpist Ellen Foster performs at Bach Fest 2022 in Chelan Washington

We heard the sweet tones of the harp before we saw the harpist.
She was playing gorgeous melodies in the Episcopal Church courtyard.

The following evening we bumped into the harpist, Ellen Foster, at a picnic table. Chelan is that kind of place — friendly and easy going. She was having dinner with her husband, Melvin, who I immediately recognized as the tenor who had sung in the noontime church concert the day before. Fortunately, he had recognized me first — the crazy lady with the camera — and called me over to their table to chat.

This was their fourth year of participating in Bach Fest. Their home is in Georgia but she has family near Chelan, so it makes an ideal summer trip filled with musical fun and some income on the side!

Harpist Ellen Foster performs at Bach Fest 2022 in Chelan Washington

Bach Fest is so intimate that I ended up meeting the harpist, Ellen Foster, and her husband, Melvin, who I’d heard singing the day before.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize how important it is to pursue your passions in life. Even if your passion isn’t something that typically produces a big money-making career, many delightful and fulfilling experiences will fill your life if you love what you are doing.

Strolling back to the Riverwalk, we heard a brass group playing in the distance.

Bach Fest in Chelan Washington Sip and Stroll on the River Walk

In the middle of the Riverwalk Park we found a brass group playing in a circle.

This whole “Sip and Stroll” experience reminded us of the spontaneous music scene we’d witnessed at the city square in Guanajuato, Mexico, where groups of musicians had taken turns entertaining the folks who were eating and relaxing around the square.

In the center of the square, an orchestra had played pops music in a bandstand. At the dozen or two cafes that surrounded the bandstand, as many Mariachi bands had played traditional Mexican folk tunes.

Without any apparent organization, one band would begin playing a song or two as soon as another band finished, and it went on like that for several mesmerizing hours with lively songs and tunes suddenly popping up all around us and none of the bands ever stepping on each other’s toes!

As much as we were loving the stroll, the music, and the memories in Chelan’s Riverwalk Park, our furry friend, Buddy, had other interests. He had eyes and ears only for the squirrels in the trees. The squirrels were making their own music, which really got Buddy’s attention, and he was transfixed.

Pup has eyes for rabbits while brass quintet plays in Chelan Washington

While we took in the sights and sounds of Bach Fest all around us, Buddy noticed only the squirrels in the trees..

Sweet pup eyes a squirel in a tree

Buddy is all eyes and ears for Bach Fest’s squirrel music!

He wasn’t the only one grooving to the tunes of the chattering squirrels. A beautiful miniature Australian Shepherd was just as enchanted by their performance.

Austrailian Shepherd dog looks at squirrel in a tree.jpg

This mini Aussie was equally enthralled by the squirrels performing at Bach Fest.

On another day when we returned to the park, Buddy took us straight to that same tree so he could listen to the squirrels a little more!

The festival’s highlight, a big gala outdoor concert at the Riverwalk Pavilion, is held on the last day. The stage backs up to the water’s edge and a grassy hillside serves as the perfect theater seating for camp chairs and blankets and picnics. We found a nice spot in the shade.

The grassy hill in front of the Riverwalk Pavilion makes natural theater seating

As the sun dropped low in the sky, people began to arrive and stake out their claims to a piece of the lawn too. We discovered that the shade from the towering trees slowly creeps down this hillside and everyone wants to be in the shade. So the seating fills up from the back to the front!

Here’s a tip for you if you ever go to a concert at the Riverwalk Pavillion: be sure to arrive fairly late so you can snag a shady front row seat!

Before long, the hills were alive with the sound of music!

Gala concert at the Riverwalk Pavilion in Chelan Washington

As the concert began the sun was just beginning to fall from the sky.

Buddy put his head in my hand and fell asleep.

Pup asleep in my hand

When the concert began, Buddy fell asleep with his head in my hand.

The concert was full of beautiful music and the conductor gave us a brief explanation of each piece before it was played. We loved learning the context of what we were hearing.

In no time it was dark, and the orchestra began playing a rousing rendition of the Battle Hymn of the Republic followed by Stars and Stripes, and we all cheered them on with a standing ovation. What a great concert!

BachFest concert at the Riverwalk Pavillion in Chelan Washington

The concert ended with stirring performances of Battle Hymn of the Repuglic and Stars and Stripes.

As we made our way back to our truck, the streets of Chelan came alive with concert-goers carrying picnic baskets and camp chairs back to their cars as and chatting excitedly about the concert. Some went looking for some post-concert refreshments too.

We came away agreeing that Chelan is a really fun town, especially in the summertime. We’d never heard of it before we got here, and we’re so glad it wound up on our itinerary!

Downtown Chelan Washington at night

Chelan Washington – A vibrant town beloved by summer vacationers!

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12 thoughts on “Chelan, Washington – Summertime Fun and Great Music!

  1. We had a short stay in Washington this week, too. Unfortunately, we were there only briefly as we traveled back from our Alaska journey. I really enjoyed your story and the photos that bring your words to life. When circumstances allow, I still hope we can get some sort of camper and visit some of the beautiful places you have introduced us to. Right now family needs trump everything else, but as soon as our house is finished, I hope we can look towards starting back doing some short camping trips that might spark our own future adventures. Until then, thanks for reserving a seat for the Jones family as we cruise the “Roads Less Traveled” with y’all. Tell Buddy that we appreciated him keeping those sneaky little squirrels up the trees where they belong!

    • Well, Jeff, you’ve been to a place we’ve never ventured! Alaska is alluring but is so darn far away! We hope it was everything you dreamed it would be. Buddy envies your pups spending time in such a rugged land. Best wishes that your house is completed soon and with all the details the way you want them. I’m sure you’ll be out camping again after that in no time. We’ve found that wanderlust is a funny thing. It goes away sometimes when family and home needs call, but then it comes back with a vengeance once things are settled and new distant horizons beckon. Thank you for being with us.

  2. This looks like a wonderful place – they appreciate their river and their musicians – I love that music on the Riverwalk idea! We have a canal in our town – maybe we could do something like that???? Except I just want to attend – not organize it!! Great pictures and story – thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • We have rivers in our town too, Deborah, and I’ve had the same thoughts. It could be so beautiful, but someone has to spearhead the effort and a lot of the river bank land is privately owned. So, visiting places where beautiful transformations like this have taken place is really inspiring and thought provoking. There are organizations that towns can join to share ideas. When we were in Maysville Kentucky we got to know the mayor, and he told us their town is part of a American Main Street Town organization where leadership from various towns that are built around a Main Street can share ideas for how to preserve their history, rehabilitate old buildings and raise funds for making their towns attractive and inviting. Perhaps there is such a thing for river park or city park creation too, who knows!

    • It really is a hidden gem — to those of us who aren’t from Washington — but it is a super popular a summertime destination for those in the know. We spoke to three different families who have been going to the Chelan area for family reunion camping vacations for decades!!

      As for Mark on stage, Bob, he sure loves playing the Beatles on his guitar, but this festival was all about Classical music, not Classic Rock!!!

  3. How I would have loved this! I adore Bach. Never hear it anymore. What a beautiful venue. You always just happen upon these happenings! Lucky you!

    • You would have absolutely loved this. It was charming, innovative and really fun. Mark took some nice videos of the Pavilion concert and once I get reliable internet access again I will try to upload them. We often get really lucky with bumping into unusual events in our travels — that’s what we love most about this lifestyle!

  4. Love your “off the beaten path” discoveries. And such dear photos…..Mark, Buddy and the squirrels – as well as a gem of you and Buddy. From a long time and appreciative fan, Anne Atheling

    • That’s the whole fun of this lifestyle–seeking out special places that aren’t highlighted in the big travel brochures. We got really lucky to land in the Entiat and Chelan area…it’s a beautiful and enchanting part of the country!

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