- Posted August 10, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Weekends in America
"Nibble on Dibble" - Tranquility on One Seattle Block
The "Nibble on Dibble." The name tap-dances across the tongue like the tasty pot luck dishes offered at this homespun, smallish block party on Seattle's north side.
The gathering, now a 24-year summer tradition, is located along a single block of Dibble Avenue in the family-friendly, and now trendy, Ballard neighborhood. Ballard is perhaps best known for its rich Nordic heritage and generations of brave salmon and crab fishermen who have tied their trollers to her docks when not in treacherous Alaskan seas hunting for nature's deadliest catch.
And while seafood is a Seattle staple, crab legs might not be on the menu at the Nibble on Dibble. But there is always plenty to nosh on, and you can indulge in some rough waters, too, thanks to a ridiculously-oversized makeshift water slide, its umbilical cord clamped tightly to the nearby fire hydrant.
The Nibble on Dibble has catered to three generations of residents, including former residents who return annually. All are treated like royalty, and the king and queen, you might say, are contractor Frank Shields, and wife, Katie, longtime Dibble Avenue residents who started the weekend-long, folksy phenomenon.
"It started when I had too much food at work and brought it home, and Frank and I brought out the grill and began barbecuing hotdogs," recalled Katie. "There were about six families to start with, and it became a bigger and bigger picnic every year. We wanted to call it something, and tried to find a name. The name found us."
Katie points to a basketball backboard attached to a metal stand on the sidewalk facing the road, now a permanent neighborhood fixture.
Said Katie, "One year we held a basketball contest and named it 'The Dribble at the Nibble on Dibble.'"
She said some families still live on the block since the first Nibble. The Shields' two sons, and now a 14 month-old grandson, live close by, and always attend.
"It's become more elaborate," she said. "The water slide evolved. As the kids got bigger, the slide got bigger."
Frank retrieves a slightly worn, framed color photo of their first son, then a toddler, slipping happily down a little water slide built for one of the first Nibbles.
Said neighbor, Marcia Wold, a 30-year Dibble Avenue resident who recalls cooking for the first Nibble, "With all the troubles in the world, and here at home, the Nibble on Dibble is a safe and peaceful community event that I feel is needed, and appreciated."
The neighbors are already speculating about next year's 25th anniversary of the block party, and while they have fun chatting of a high school band to parade down their street, having a small plane fly over towing a "Nibble on Dibble" sign, and other grandiose notions, deep down they seem to understand that the power of the Nibble lies within its modesty.
Picnic patriarch Frank Shields is pictured with bucket of corn on the cob.
Story and Photos by Steve Shay