Neighborhood Kids family fun in bellingham & whatcom county


Local Teen Magician Sterling Dietz

Everyone knows that October 31st is the day we celebrate Halloween, but did you know that the last day of October is also National Magic Day? Celebrated on the anniversary of Harry Houdini’s death, Magic Day is a time for magicians to share their talents and inspire future generations of magicians.

For this occasion, was delighted to interview Whatcom County magician Sterling Dietz. A 2009 graduate of Lynden High School, Sterling has already achieved renown in the magical community. What first sparked your interest in magic?

Sterling Dietz Sterling Dietz
Courtesy Photo

Sterling Dietz: I became interested after I saw Las Vegas magician Jeff McBride perform at the Mt. Baker Theatre in Bellingham. To this day, I can hardly remember what he did on that stage, but I do remember the emotions and feelings that were coursing through me. After the show, I turned to my Dad and said, “This is what I was born to do.”

NK: When did you do to start your training in magic and how did you prepare?

SD: I’ve been performing the art of magic for almost five years. To start my training, I bought every single item that Jeff McBride was selling after his show. I went home and read magic books from the library, found tricks online, and practiced. Three days later, I performed my first show for my Mom’s friend’s son’s birthday party. I got paid five dollars for my first gig.

NK: What other magicians have influenced your act?

SD: Magicians who have instructed me and helped me on my path are also some of my friends in magic, like Jeff McBride. I studied under him for a little while.

Another influence is local magician John Walton. He was my first friend in magic and also one of my mentors. We have spent many hours in his studio “jamming” and critiquing each other’s illusions.

But my favorite magician of all time is David Copperfield. The way he uses stories and choreography makes his magic more than just tricks. It’s an experience.

NK: What have been some of your career highlights so far?

SD: Winning the World Teen Champion of Magic in 2006 was a highlight, and traveling to other countries for magic as well.

NK: What’s your favorite trick to perform?

SD: My favorite illusion to perform is definitely the “Card Manipulation” portion. It’s done to music, and cards appear and disappear at my fingertips.

NK: What’s the most challenging illusion in your repertoire?

SD: The most challenging illusion I do is my show’s Finale. It is another type of manipulation with billiard balls. Performing this type of sleight of hand takes many years of practice.

NK: You graduated from Lynden High School in 2009; what’s next for your education and/or your career?

SD: Magic is truly an education in itself. With magic, I am learning business, human relations, and finances. I don’t think college is the right road for me at this time, but I may take some classes online.

NK: What are some lifelong goals that you have for your career?

SD: My goal is to have my own theatre, which is currently being negotiated in several possible places.

NK: What advice would you give to other kids in Bellingham and Whatcom County that have an interest in performing magic?

SD: Whether it is magic or something else, find your passion in life and then commit the time and energy to pursue it. Find as many resources as you can—from the library, Internet, friends, and family—and then go to work to be the best you can be.

Visit Magician Sterling Dietz to find out more about Sterling’s act, upcoming performances, and booking.

leave a comment!

Happy Halloween, Bellinghamsters!

Looking for something else to do with kids, besides trick-or-treating, on Halloween? You are in serious luck. A lot of great organizations have tons of fun (and sometimes FREE) activities in Bellingham in 2009.

Happy Halloween, Bellinghamsters! Kids can show of their Halloween costumes all over town!

For some pre-Halloween fun, Bellingham Preschool of the Arts and Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth are hosting a day of parties on Friday, October 30. Toddlers are invited to come by for mini-pumpkin decorating and games from 3 to 5 PM ($2 per person or $5 per family), while all ages will want to check out the Haunted House from 5 to 7 PM ($5 per person), followed by an all-ages dance.

And just down the block, Boundary Bay invites family to join in their Halloween pre-func with a Haunted Beer Garden to support Bellingham Roller Betties from 5:30 to 10 PM. Admission to the fun and spooky party is $5 for adults and $3 for kids under 12.

On Halloween Day, you can bring the kids in their costumes to Historic Fairhaven or Downtown Bellingham to trick-or-treat at participating businesses. To remember all the fun, you can get a free Halloween portrait from 2 to 5 PM from Turner Photographics on Cornwall Avenue between East Holly and Magnolia Streets; kids must be in a costume to get a free photo!

Both Community Food Co-op Stores are also hosting some Halloween fun with cookie decorating and crafts from noon to 2 PM.

If you want to get out some energy on Halloween, Bellingham Parks and Recreation invites runners all ages to take part in the Dracula Dash Fun Run at Bloedel Donovan Park at 3 PM. Kids can run past spooky characters or bring a goodie bag to collected treats and prizes along the way. Cost is $3.

Perhaps dancing is a bit more your style. Good thing that the local group, Dance Gallery, is hosting a Halloween Monster Mash at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center. Admission is free, and kids ages 3 to 12 and encouraged to wear a costume and come prepared to bounce, balance, and dance from 4 to 7 PM.

And if you’re looking for something completely different, you can always check our list of Local Activities to find Bellingham and Whatcom County fun that the whole family can enjoy.

leave a comment!

A Talk with Local Author David Westerlund

In 2005, David Westerlund headed west. He originally left the East Coast to attend graduate school in Vancouver, B.C., but moved down to Bellingham instead. Right away, he loved the size of our city and the beautiful, green parks.

David and Simone Westerlund David and Simone Westerlund
Photo courtesy David Westerlund

He’s also a big fan of the Bellingham Farmers Market, so much so that he made its products and people the focus of his first children’s book, Simone Goes to the Market: A Children’s Book of Colors Connecting Face and Food.

“I was inspired to write a book because I was reading to my daughter Simone a lot, who was then four and a half years old at the time. We found a lot of great books and some not-so-great books,” David explained.

He cites author Tana Hoban and her simple picture books featuring colors, shapes, and everyday objects as inspiration. Jumping off from that theme, he decided to create a book of colors, featuring things about Bellingham. “I thought, ‘Why not focus on the Farmers Market?’ because there is so much vitality there,” David said.

Combining photographs of faces, market products, and colors, David created a book that celebrates the very best of what Bellingham offers: fresh food and the good people that grow it.

“Our society has become so technologically saturated that machines do all our tasks,” David said. “To grow your own food and cook with your kids lets them see that work can be a playful activity. Seeing where our food comes from brings a lot of joy and meaning to life too.”

"Simone Godes to the Market" Cover of Simone Goes to the Market
Courtesy David Westerlund

The subjects of the book—the colors, the objects, and the featured farmers—evolved organically. David took his camera to the Market and waited for inspiration to hit. “Some of the people I already knew, like Gretchen from our farm share. I tend to over think things, so I just went with my gut this time and started taking pictures.”

David self-published the book in 2008 and has plans to publish another children’s book, Downtown Alphabet, later this fall.

“This new book is going to feature a close-up of a downtown business sign, like the M from Mallard Ice Cream and a face of the owner, Ben,” David said. “It’s a great way to meet your neighbors and take the kids on a scavenger hunt around town to find all the letters.”

If you’re looking for more ways to expose your children to the wonderful local food sources in Bellingham, David recommends checking out the Local Food Exchange. Run by a non-profit group, Growing Washington, the Local Food Exchange sells 100% local food and is open throughout the week in the spring and summer; fall and winter hours are limited to Thursdays.

“Another great movement is the Whatcom County School Garden Collective,” David said, which he learned about at the Bellingham Slow Food Eat-In on Labor Day. He recommends talking to other parents about starting a garden at your children’s school.

Visit David’s website, Face and Food, to locate a copy of Simone Goes to the Market and find out more about connecting kids to local faces and food.

leave a comment!