Sittin’ down with the Whaling Days man

Barry Iles - Photo by Rachel Brant
Barry Iles
— image credit: Photo by Rachel Brant


Staff writer

Barry Iles is a busy man. The longtime Silverdale resident works hard at the Strategic Weapons Facility on Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, but manages to find time to serve as president of the Whaling Days executive board. This year will mark the 36th annual Whaling Days and Iles has attended the event nearly every year, only missing one Whaling Days in the event’s history. The Whaling Days president recently chatted with us about the ins and outs of running the largest community festival in the West Sound.

Question: What is your favorite aspect of Silverdale?

Answer: Everything. I grew up here. The people, the environment, the water. I’ve lived here since I was an infant, my wife is a native also.

Q: Family, kids?

A: My wife, Lori, and I have three grown kids, Austin, Amby and Brigit. They are all grown and doing well.

Q: Do you have a favorite hobby?

A: Hiking probably. I lift weights almost every day at Silverdale Fitness, so hiking or weightlifting. I love the Olympics. I’ve been hiking there since I was a kid. We used to take the kids when they were little on long hikes up in the snow.

Q: How long have you been involved with Whaling Days?

A: Gosh, eight or nine years.

Q: Why did you become involved?

A: I just grew up here. I’ve been to every Whaling Days except one when I was in Europe. I just got so much out of it that I decided to put something back into it. This is my fourth year as president. Before I was with advertising and sponsorship and checked IDs at the beer garden and enjoyed it.

Q: What are your duties as Whaling Days president?

A: Diplomacy (laughs). That’s a very big part of it and I don’t deserve the spotlight because the board, we work very well together and couldn’t do it without one another.

Q: What do you like the most about working with Whaling Days? The least?

A: The most, seeing a very successful festival, seeing families come together and enjoy it. The least, having somebody show up and complain over something minor and you say “gosh come volunteer and help us make it better.” The volunteers do so much, we work hard together.

Q: Who would play you in a movie of your life and why?

A: Bill Murray because he’s just an average Joe who can find humor in any situation and I’m a lot like that.

Q: What is your favorite movie?

A: “Scent of a Woman”

Q: Do you get a chance to enjoy the event or do you run around in a frenzy?

A: Oh absolutely (get to enjoy the event). It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun work and it’s one of the places where you’re bound to run into old friends you haven’t seen in a long time.

Q: What is your favorite event at Whaling Days?

A: I like the canoe races, the outrigger canoe races.

Q: I hear the Whaling Days executive board has a canoe team. How did that come together?

A: I think this is our fifth year. I paddle with the executive board and we’re getting pretty good. We’re getting our timing down and with canoe racing, timing is everything. They do a great job by the way, the canoe group, Hui Heihei Wa’a.

Q: What do you like best about Whaling Days?

A: It brings the community together. It raises an awful lot of money for charity.

Q: What’s the most difficult aspect of planning an event as large as Whaling Days?

A: Organizing so many incredibly different county agencies, charity organizations, civic organizations ... they all think they’re the most important and you have to be diplomatic enough to make them believe it (laughs).

Q: If you could change one thing about Silverdale, what would it be and why?

A: I would change the way it’s designed. I think the focus should be the creek and the greenbelt, but the county has allowed developers to turn it into a back alley.

Q: What is your most memorable Whaling Days experience?

A: I met my wife at Whaling Days in 1977, 31 years ago. We’ve been married 28 years. She was a long-haired beauty walking through the festival barefoot (smiles). She’s still a long-haired beauty by the way and I don’t deserve her.

Q: What person(s) made the biggest impression on your life?

A: My children. They taught me what love was.

Q: When do you begin preparing for Whaling Days?

A: We (executive board) meet all year long. It’s a lot of work. Pretty much after one Whaling Days we start working toward the next one. We trade lots of e-mails, lots of phone calls, lots of planning.

Q: What improvements would you like to see to Whaling Days?

A: Something we’re very proud of — we started a scholarship last year for area high school seniors and I would really like to see that grow. We’ve already given thousands of dollars to students.

Editor’s Note: Community Spotlight is a weekly Q & A feature on a member in the community that appears Wednesdays in the CK Reporter. To nominate someone who lives or works in CK who you think deserves to be featured, call (360) 308-9161 or e-mail Submitted nominations are drawn at random.

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