NB Kitsap Community
Port Orchard, the county seat of Kitsap County, is in the southern portion of Kitsap County on Sinclair Inlet, west of Seattle. Port Orchard was platted in 1886 and was originally called Sidney. Lumber, pottery and terra cotta, and shingle mills were the first industries. In 1892, residents voted to change the name to Port Orchard after Henry Masterson Orchard, a navigator under Capt. George Vancouver. The town was the first in Kitsap County to be incorporated.
It is approximately 17 miles from Bangor’s main gate and a 10-minute ferry ride from Bremerton on a historic passenger ferry. Port Orchard is directly south of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. State Highway 16 links Port Orchard to Tacoma on the south and Bremerton on the north.
In Port Orchard, you will find a warm and friendly small-town atmosphere with most of the big-town amenities. Located on Puget Sound’s Sinclair Inlet, Port Orchard is a beautiful waterfront community. Port Orchard is known for its popular marina, shops filled with antiques and crafts, art galleries, museums, golf courses (including McCormick Woods, rated “best course” and “most enjoyable course” by Golf Digest and Golf Week) and casual to fine dining restaurants.
Port Orchard’s Fathoms O’ Fun Festival is one of the oldest festivals in the state. The end of June/early July event includes a street fair, concerts, vendor/craft booths, a parade, fireworks and more. The Port Orchard Farmers Market, one of the oldest and largest Saturday farmers markets in western Washington, runs in downtown Port Orchard on Saturdays, April through October. For more information, visit www.pofarmersmarket.org. The Port Orchard Chamber hosts the internationally known Seagull Calling Festival in May. Participants (many in costume) mimic the call of the seagull, coaxing them to shore with Cheetos, and are judged on their success. As popular as the seagull calling contest, the “Seagull” Wings Cook-off includes amateur and commercial kitchen categories.
The Chris Craft Rendezvous in July draws many boat owners and dreamers. The second Sunday in August brings tens of thousands to Port Orchard for The Cruz custom car show and Festival by the Bay.
In December, Port Orchard kicks off the holiday season with the Festival of Lights and Chimes; the tree is lit, Santa arrives by boat and a holiday pet costume contest takes place. Folks line the streets to watch the parade of costumed pets, ranging from parrots to rabbits to cats and dogs. Earlier in the day the Jingle Bell Run, a 5K walk/run, goes through town. The Port Orchard Yacht Club also sponsors the Lighted Boat Parade in mid-December, a procession of lighted boats cruise along the South Kitsap shoreline, with those aboard calling out greetings to those on shore.
In Port Orchard, live community theater productions are presented by the Western Washington Center for the Arts. Each summer, residents and visitors swarm to the Waterfront Marina Park in downtown Port Orchard for the free Concerts by the Bay series. A downtown 1920s art deco movie house shows independent, art and classic films.
With more than 200 miles of shoreline in Kitsap County, water activities are important in our community. Recreational water activities are limitless: freshwater lake fishing, saltwater fishing and shell fishing. Boating activities include water skiing, personal watercraft, kayaking, sailing, yachting, beachcombing, swimming and viewing salmon returning to spawn. Eagles, ospreys, heron, seals and occasionally orcas can also be seen.
The City of Port Orchard has several neighborhood parks, including some with lighted tennis courts, children’s play equipment and picnic areas. South Kitsap is home to Manchester State Park, on the shores of Puget Sound. Covering 111 acres with 3,400 feet of waterfront, it has 50 standard campsites, a group RV camp area and picnic shelters. Several county parks are in South Kitsap. Long Lake County Park and Horseshoe Lake County Park offer swimming, boat launch and picnic and play areas. South Kitsap Regional Park, a 200-acre park, offers free miniature train rides, ball fields, horseshoe pits, trails, batting cages and picnic areas and will be further developed and enhanced. Youth soccer and baseball are popular in South Kitsap. Drag racing is nearby at the Bremerton Raceway. The 635-acre Banner Forest Park is a haven for mountain biking, hiking and horse riding. Equestrian activities are also popular in Kitsap County with several horse-boarding facilities and the Kitsap Saddle Club in South Kitsap. The Howe Farm in rural South Kitsap offers a dog park and walking trails.
The South Kitsap School District, with an enrollment of more than 10,000 students, operates 16 learning centers offering an excellent educational opportunity for each student. Community pride is evident throughout the district. Each year, parents, businesses and community members volunteer hundreds of hours in the schools and donate thousands of dollars in resources. For more information on the South Kitsap School District, visit www.skitsap.wednet.edu. South Kitsap also has a substantial home-schooling population and several private church-operated schools.
On the outskirts of Port Orchard is the Washington Veterans Home. Originally built to care for Civil War veterans, it has been part of the Port Orchard community since 1910. The Veterans Home is a state facility providing long-term health care for disabled wartime veterans and spouses. Visitors are always welcome at the home on Beach Drive 1 mile east of Port Orchard.
For more information, call the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce at 876-3505 or stop in at 1014 Bay St., Suite 8, Port Orchard, WA 98366. Visit its website at www.portorchard.com.