“The Vigil,” the statue of two women, a child and a dog that graces the plaza on H Street in downtown Blaine, has been updated with a commemorative plaque that will be officially unveiled on Sunday, June 8. The bronze, custom-made plaque will help teach tourists and locals alike a valuable part of Blaine’s history.
“Many tourists and visitors have come to check it out, but they never knew the story behind it,” said Kristi Galbraith, executive director for the Pacific Arts Association. “It’s a historical piece for our town.”
The bronze sculpture, which was crafted by Blaine artist Bob McDermott in 2006 pays tribute to Blaine’s rich fishing heritage by honoring the men who set out to sea, and the women and children who kept vigil in the town until their return. The plaque praises the women in particular for “providing the civilizing influences” and helping the town flourish in the absence of the fishermen.
“It’s really the only statue we know of that honors the women and children who waited for their fishermen to return,” said Bruce Wolf, who headed the fundraising efforts for the statue.
Wolf said he really wanted to have the plaque, because he would see people admiring the statue, and when he asked them about it, they didn’t know the meaning.
“It was really frustrating,” he said. “We had wanted a plaque for a long time, but we didn’t want to do it unless we did it right.”
So Wolf took his vision for the commemorative plaque to city council, and, with their blessing, began to move forward on the project.
The Pacific Arts Association (PAA) funded the project, along with help from local donors, who will have their names inscribed on the plaque for a $1,000 donation. The proceeds from these engravings go to scholarships for the Drayton Harbor Music Festival jazz camp, formerly the Blaine Jazz Festival, which gives students an opportunity to learn from world-renowned musicians.
“We changed the name because of the expansion and growth of the program,” Galbraith said. “It now includes classical and modern music.”
There are still spaces available for donors to have their names engraved on the plaque.
Blaine’s public works department provided the base for the plaque, Wolf said, with staffer Leroy Dougall providing much of the labor. “He’s very talented at what he does,” Galbraith said. “He does so much for our community, and no one knows about it,” The plaque will be dedicated with a service and a small reception in H Street Plaza at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 8. The event will be free to attend.
For more information about how to donate to the Drayton Harbor Music Festival jazz camp, visit the PAA’s website at pacificartsassoc.org