Category Archives: Fairs and Festivals

Celebrating Daffodils

Every spring Tacoma and Pierce County pay tribute to the buttery yellow flower. Last week marked the beginning of the 81st Annual Daffodil Festival (wow, something older than me).

Sea Scout's Entry

The highlight of the event has to be the parade that goes through not just one town, but four separate towns. The traveling parade had more than 170 entries including floats, bands and mounted unit. Thousands of fresh-cut daffodils adorn the floats. As sometimes happens in the Pacific Northwest, it rained.

On Sunday, April 13, Tacoma celebrated boats and our waterways with a Marine Parade. More than 40 boats cruised in formation from the Tacoma Yacht Club to the Thea Foss Waterway.

Those are authentic mermaids on the front of the boat.

Unlike last weekend, the sun made a day-long appearance. The blue skies and white clouds framed the Olympic Mountains and Mt. Rainier. All were postcard crisp and clear.

People's Choice Winner - the pink octopus revolves and they played the Beatle's song about an octupus garden on the boat.

Farm Tour On Tap

Farm fresh produce and fall just seem to go together like
comfortable shoes. On October 5 and 6 thirteen Skagit Valley Farms invite you
to visit and discover where your food comes from. The Skagit Valley Festival of
Farms
runs from 10 a.m.-4p.m. each day with opportunities to  visit educational exhibits, take farm tours, view gardening demonstrations, taste mouth-watering samples, let your kids try farm activities and everyone can navigate corn mazes.
Best of all, the basic tour is FREE. Each stop may also have
prepared food or the produce, meat, dairy products, etc. that they are known
for available for purchase.

Here’s a brief preview of what you’ll discover on this tour.

At Taylor Shellfish on Chuckanut Drive in Bow, Wash.,
you’ll meet shellfish farmers, watch oyster shucking demonstrations, urge crabs
along in their own races, build a fairy house on the beach, see the world’s
only lighthouse made of oyster shells and taste steamed Manila clams or
barbequed Pacific oysters.

Stop by Samish Bay Cheese in Bow and taste the phenomenal Arugula Ladysmith cheese that Roger makes.

At Sakuma Bros. Farms in Burlington, take a tractor-pulled
wagon ride, find out what a raspberry machine is, take part in a pie eating
contest and sample fresh berries, chips and salsa made with locally grown
produce and honey from Belleville Honey Company.

Although the Tulip Festival has come and gone for this year, you can still find out all
about this beautiful flower at RoozenGaarde in Mount Vernon. Gather ideas from the experts on layouts and plantings that you can do in your own landscape. Let the
children try the scavenger hunt and before you leave, shop for bulbs and gardening tools.

Wineries, dairies, cattle ranches, produce farms and more complete the tour.

There’s so much to see you might want to spend the weekend.
I highly recommend Candlewood Suites in Burlington
as a comfortable option. Rooms have full kitchens so you can bring back your
bounty and eat it freshly cooked or store it in a full-size refrigerator.

 

White Pass Stages a Winter Carnival

This should fall under the heading, “Did you know?” Every year on the first weekend of March, at the summit of White Pass a Winter Carnival beckons snow lovers. I just experienced the 27th annual carnival and found the wealth of activities a delight.     

 

White Pass is located on US Highway 12 on the White Pass Scenic Byway. Many Washingtonians haven’t even visited this ski area and are surprised learn about what goes on there. It offers 1,500 acres of Alpine terrain, Nordic trails and lodging. Snow enthusiasts can downhill and cross country ski, snowboard and snowshoe. The lodge handles equipment rental, has child care, serves food and beverages and houses a well-stocked pro shop.

But back to the carnival. Several volunteers, many who work in the construction business, build a snow castle that becomes the showcase sculpture for the event. More than 15 people helped to create the castle this year. It is made with forms packed with snow. Each element of the structure contains a number of forms, so it’s a slow process, but it’s done that way to make it safe. Throngs of folks walk through the castle at the event, something the kids especially treasure.

    

A safe, snow structure is subject to a most unpredictable Mother Nature.

“It’s crucial that it stays cold for the castle. Rain and wind beat it up,” said David Ruby, a Packwood resident and lead volunteer.

The normal time frame to complete the castle is two weeks; that’s without any unexpected weather fronts.

Touring the castle and using the slide inside is free for everyone. Other activities may involve a fee.

During daylight hours on Saturday and Sunday, skiers and boarders race, take lessons or just tackle some runs for fun. On Saturday evening, a dinner of prime rib or spaghetti is available for purchase. As the night draws to a close, the entire ski patrol carries torches and crisscrosses on skis down the main hill. That signals the beginning of the fireworks show and the end of the evening. Sunday sees more of the same.

I urge you to mark your calendars for the first weekend in March, 2014, so you too can take part in the festivities at White Pass. Or visit anytime to play in the snow.

 For other winter activities available now, look at Visit Rainier.

“Exploring Washington’s Backroads” Paints a Perfect Picture

John Deviny, author of “Exploring Washington’s Backroads,” was kind enough to give me a copy of this most intriguing book. It’s a short, concise volume packed with trips throughout our state that anyone, traveler or local, would enjoy. Photos on every page just make the enticement more alluring. Deviny has divided the state into what her calls “Backroad Trips,” 17 of them to be exact.

View from Skamania Lodge in the Columbia Gorge, which is also mentioned in the book.

Each of the trips describes the general location, “Sights and Scenes” not to miss and a route to follow that truly depicts the culture and personality of the area. For example, “Backroad Trip 2” loops you through the Black Hills of the Puget Sound region in Thurston and Grays Harbor counties. In our Capitol, Olympia, you begin the journey and then drive through forested hills above the Chehalis and Black River plains through old timber towns and quaint businesses. Be sure to investigate the magical Mima Mounds.

You visit towns like McCleary, which actually holds a Bear Festival (July 12-14, 2013), and where the door factory is still in business wafting off the smell of sawdust to remind you it’s a mill town.

Each trip holds surprises and new information (even to me) so when you’re ready to discover small-town Washington, I urge you to order this book, pile the family in your car and head on down the road. You’ll be glad you did.

Deviny advises you to explore on your own, beyond what he describes in his book, “A good road trip is an art form, and the open road is your canvas.”

Soap Lake, also mentioned in the book, has a new sundial.

Get Into Soap Lake

As you might imagine, Soap Lake is a body of water, but it is also a town of 1,500 in Eastern Washington. I’m pretty sure they all know each other, because while we enjoyed a tasty restaurant dinner there at Don’s everybody else in the eatery recognized each other and chatted with them.

Soap Lake and the newly installed sun dial sculpture.

 

Soap Lake was formed by a mammoth waterfall that eroded basalt rock into what is now Dry Falls. When the waters of the last big flood receded, it left the mineral-rich lake. More than 15 minerals fill the lake, some say giving it extraordinary healing powers. Soaking in the lake water and spreading the lake mud over hands, arms and faces to facilitate healing was done by indigenous people, settlers and is still done today.

A list of all the mineral Soap Lake contains.

The name, Soap Lake, seemed appropriate because of the foamy ridges that formed on the beach on windy days. Besides the lake itself, local spas offer a Soap Lake experience where you can soak in lake-filled tubs. (Although a broken pipe has stopped that temporarily, it will soon be fixed.)

From www.soaplakewa.com:  Some day, Soap Lake will be discovered by the rich and famous. They’ll build a fabulous resort and take advantage of this absolutely one-of-a-kind mineral lake. They’ll hear about Soap Lake and its remarkable history. They’ll swim in the water and lie in the sun and know they have found a place that nourishes their soul as well as their bodies. They’ll be drawn back year-after-year until they decide to stay for the rest of their lives.

If you aren’t rich or famous, visit soon, before the price goes up. If you are rich and famous, we’ve been waiting for you.

Notaras Lodge, a very fine place to stay.

Besides relaxing in the sun, Soap Lake has lots of activities throughout the year like Winterfest, the second weekend of December, with a juried art show, art sale, crafts and music. Lava Run to the Sun is a motorcycle rally in late July and the Soap Lake Box Derby takes place over Memorial Day Weekend.

Don’t Overlook Salem

Last week at this time I was touring Oregon’s state capital, Salem. Oftentimes, travelers concentrate on the big city of Portland, the coastal towns or the wine country of Willamette Valley when they consider Oregon as a destination. Consider Salem, also. Here’s why:

 

Just a few miles outside of town sits the lovely Bavarian town of Mount Angel. At the Glockenspiel Restaurant, local ingredients from less than a mile away, are the emphasis. That makes the entrees served taste a lot fresher and really brings something special to the table. Besides the tried and true German recipes like wienerschnitzel, I urge you to try their special cabbage, which takes the chef five hours to make. It will tantalize your palate. Then at the appointed time, go outside and watch the performance of the wooden dolls in the Glockenspiel tower alongside the restaurant.

For a healthy walk after dinner, head up to Mount Angel Abbey. Enjoy the gardens and the peacefulness.

Mount Angel’s largest claim to fame and what the townspeople put the most energy into is their Oktoberfest. This year is the 45th annual and runs from September 13-16. With all kinds of fun for the whole family, Oktoberfest celebrates the harvest and the bounty of the earth through live music, street dancing, a car show and more.

Gallon House Covered Bridge

On the way back to Salem, visit the Gallon House Covered Bridge, Oregon’s oldest covered bridge. It was named for the days when liquor was sold by the gallon or quart in a nearby house.

Gerry Frank’s Konditorei, with more than 40 flavors of cake and pastries, is a must-stop for dessert in Salem. Local favorite cakes include Barney’s Blackout, Chocolate Raspberry and Lemon Cream. I savored the seasonal Marionberry and highly recommend it.

Then for $1.50 you can’t beat the price for a ride on the old world-style carousel housed in a stately building on the banks of the Willamette River.

Salem makes a fabulous family vacation and every year right around this time it hosts the Oregon State Fair. Scones, funnel cakes, food on a stick…

Storytelling at Powellswood Garden

This is a heads up for an event scheduled for July 14, 2012 at Powellswood Garden in Federal Way.

 

I love to see our beautiful local venues diversifying to draw in more guests. It not only showcases the venue, but in this case some very good professional storytellers, too.

Experience storytellers from across the nation who mesmerize and entertain audiences of all ages in their own unique styles. From Seattle, Debra Harris-Branham conveys lively African-American folktales; Joe Hayes, who hales from the Southwest, specializes in bilingual Spanish-English tales of that region and Appalachian master teller Donald Davis brings his audience to laughter and sometimes tears with tales of growing up in North Carolina.

Read about the other storytellers performing on July 14 at the Powellswood Festival site.

Storytelling includes folktales, myths, legends and even tall tales. What better back drop for listening to these treasures than a garden full of colorful blooms and beautiful water features. What better way to introduce computer-addicted children to an ancient art.

And it’s a real bargain:  Adults $10, children $5 and a family ticket $20.

Heather Larson writes about the Pacific Northwest from her office in Tacoma, Washington hoping she can entice you to visit or share your own memories of the region.

Do the Puyallup

 

You’ve still got plenty of time to get to the Puyallup Fair since it runs through Sunday, September 25th. If you go, there is lots to see and do including several new attractions. I like to take two days to go through everything as it’s hard for me to enjoy everything I want to in just one day.

Listed as one of the biggest and best fairs in this Mainstreet.com article by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell, the Puyallup pretty much has it all. Livestock, a petting zoo, lots of entertainment, a beer garden and wine bistro, lots of food, famous entertainers, rides, a carnival, 4-H and Grange displays and vendors galore round out the fun at the complex known as the Puyallup Fairgrounds.

 

Some of my favorite treats from my time at the Fair this past Sunday included Danny Vernon, the best Elvis impersonator in the Pacific Northwest. And he’s phenomenal – both his singing and Elvis movements plus he has a five-piece band backing him up. But even better – watching the audience and all the people who actually remember the real Elvis and the words to every one of his songs. I don’t know if Danny is returning to the Fair, but if you have a chance to seem him perform, definitely do it.

One of the new attractions, A World of Music, is located just outside the Northwest Outdoor Barn. On display are instruments from many other countries and you can touch and play them to your heart’s content.

We also got to see a Seattle Police Officer demonstrate how his K-9 Ziva works. And, yes, she is named for the character on the TV show, NCIS. This German Shepherd is the first female K-9 to work with Seattle Police and she’s very good. She hasn’t been on the job long and has already caught quite a few bad guys.

Yummy, yummy barbecued ribs.

Foodwise, I highly recommend the new strawberry flavored ice cream in the Milk Barn, Fisher scones, of course; barbecued ribs or chicken, hamburgers, elephant ears and corn on the cob. I’ve heard that deep-fried Rocky Mountain Oysters (none for me, thank you), deep-fried bubble gum and deep-fried Kool-Aid are also available. I also have it on good authority that there’s a wine bar on the second floor of the fine arts building, but I’ll visit that on my next trip.

The News Tribune wrote a great article on how to visit the fair, if you need some help in that direction.

Maybe I’ll see you there on my return trip.

Fair and Festival Season

A train that took people around the outskirts of Meeker Days

We just started fair and festival season in Washington and last week my husband and I attended Meeker Days in Puyallup. Billed as the largest festival in Pierce County, it certainly lived up to its name. You’d walk down a main street lined with booths only to find all the cross streets also full of vendors just about as far as the eye can see. They had a building full of exhibits, also. And live entertainment, lots of food, a beer garden and a car show. There could have been more, but my feet started talking to me and telling me to sit down so I didn’t cover all the territory.

One of the vendors sold bird houses with swimming pools. Lucky birds.

I love the fairs and festivals we have around here. For some reason all the best ones usually fall on the same weekend and I’m not sure why that is. They are just good old-fashioned fun.

Here are some of my favorites and when they take place this year:

Kent Cornucopia Days, Kent. July 7-10:  Dragon boat races, a run, crafts and more.

Capital Lakefair, Olympia. July 13-17:  Carnival, entertainment and food with a Candyland theme this year.  

Sequim Lavender Festival, Sequim. July 15-17. Self-guided tours of farms, a street fair and all things lavender.  

Bellevue Arts Museum Arts and Fair, Bellevue. July 29-31. Live entertainment, hands-on kid’s activities and lots of outdoor art.  

Morton Loggers’ Jubilee, Morton. August 11-14. We celebrate everything here including lawn mower racing and lumberjack skills.  

Auburn Good Ol’ Days, Auburn. August 12-14. School reunions, a fun run, car show and a honey bucket building contest.  

Tacoma Maritime Fest, Tacoma. August 27-28. Boat building, awesome harbor boat tours, live music and Almond Roca.

What is your favorite fair or festival and why?