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The Kustom Kulture Festival returns to Silverdale May 15

Alyssa Crommett, 21, of Kent, tries on clothes at The RockIt Roost in Silverdale in preparation for Saturday
Alyssa Crommett, 21, of Kent, tries on clothes at The RockIt Roost in Silverdale in preparation for Saturday's Kustom Kulture Festival. Crommett is competing in a pin-up contest under the alias Vivacious Vavavoom.
— image credit: Christopher Carter/staff photo

Donning cuffed jeans, plaid shirts and bandanas, more than 2,000 people are expected Saturday to turn a small corner of Silverdale into something reminiscent of a James Dean movie.

The sights and sounds of 1950s Rockabilly culture will be heard and seen during the Kustom Kulture Festival at the Silverdale Beach Hotel. Now in it's second year, event organizers promise a bigger and better show with a circus sideshow theme, revamped pin-up contest, classic car show and eight-band lineup.

"It's going be crazy," said Hanah Reed, the event's founder. Reed owns RockIt Roost, a retro clothing boutique in Silverdale, with her husband Chuck Mitchell.

Luckily for Jessica Powell, crazy is just what she was looking for.

She has the smile and the wardrobe and now, all that's left, is finding the perfect Bettie Page pose.

The 29-year-old bartender from Bremerton was looking for an excuse to play dress-up, and she will Saturday as Jezebelle Lovespell, a 1950s pin-up model.

"For me to do this is kind of a big thing," said the Navy wife and mother of two who added that she has been searching for something fun to do after relocating from Houston, Texas. "It's a way to express a part of myself and feel good about myself."

The pin-up event isn't just some Miss Silverdale pageant either.

Powell will join about 40 other women from as far away as Portland and Lake Stevens vying for the title of Pin-up Queen. Some of them are sponsored by local businesses.

Alyssa Crommett lives in Kent and will compete as Vivacious Vavavoom. The 21-year-old said she's "a rockabilly girl at heart." Without much of a scene to identify with in Kent, Crommett said she's looking forward to meeting people that share her same interests.

"People kind of take their fashion as part of their identity," she said.

The contestants, all with a theme as unique as their three rotating outfits, will wander around the event grounds to attract the attention — and tokens — of event goers. Attendees will be given two wooden tokens upon entering the festival. One of them is for their favorite girl.

Crommett said she is confident in her ability to be a crowd favorite, but she didn't want to give away her secrets.

"I have a few tricks up my skirt," she said.

Attendees will give their other token to the driver of their favorite classic car.

More than 100 classics, many pre-1965 traditional hot rods, are already registered for the event, Mitchell said. The drivers will be on hand to collect tokens that, as with the pin-up models, represent a vote for the people's choice award.

When not perusing the cars and the women, event goers can grab a locally made microbrew and get their boogie on.

Los Angeles's Rockabilly punk band Three Bad Jacks is scheduled to headline the event following a slew of other bands from Oregon and Washington as well as Canadian Rockabilly blues band, Big John Bates & the Voodoo Dollz.

In-between bands, a circus troupe from Seattle will feature sideshow performances from a sword swallower, contortionist and a fire breather. Bremerton favorite Brian Dent is also scheduled to perform as Little Elvis.

Silverdale's Silver City Brewery will host a beer garden while local shops like Bremerton's Ish Vintage Clothing, Amy's Decadent Chocolate and larger business like Costco and Clearwater Casino and Resort will have booths. About 40 business are expected to have vendor booths, Mitchell said.

Last year's event drew more than 1,500 people, Mitchell said, adding that he's confident the crowd will increase this time around.

"It's on a much bigger scale this year." Mitchell said.

The festival was never intended as an annual event, Reed said. Nonetheless, it took off bringing people with a similar affinity for the culture.

"We were really taken aback by the interest in it and the crowd that turned out," said Mitchell. "People kept asking us if we we're going to do it again."

Reed said she's humbled by the success and attention the event has attracted.

"I would have never thought it would be like this," she said. "I'm over the moon about it."

She said she sees a small, but powerful resurgence of interest in American culture circa 1950.

"There's a rawness and a pureness to it," she said.

While the event lasts only one day, Crommett said the sense of culture lasts forever.

"It will never die," she said.

Second annual Kustom Kulture Festival

WHERE: Silverdale Beach Hotel, 3073 NW Bucklin Hill Rd.

WHEN: Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with an after-party in the hotel lounge until 2 a.m.

The event is all-ages and advance tickets cost $20 and can be purchased at The RockIt Roost, 10516 Silverdale Way NW, with children 12 and under admitted free. Tickets at the door will be $25.

Tickets can also be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com

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