56th annual Capital Lakefair kicks off Wednesday under sunny skies

Contributing writerJuly 12, 2013 

  • CAPITAL LAKEFAIR

    What: The 56th annual Capital Lakefair — happening again this year without the traditional boating on Capitol Lake — is a five-day celebration filled with music, carnival rides, shows, fireworks and a grand parade.

    When: Noon-11 p.m. Wednesday through July 20 and noon-midnight July 21

    Where: Heritage Park at Capitol Lake, Olympia

    Cost: Admission is free; bring money for rides, games, food, vendors.

    More information: 360-943-7344, lakefair.org

  • HIGHLIGHTS

    Wednesday (Public Employees Appreciation Day)

    11 a.m-12:30 p.m. at Olympia Timberland Regional Library, 313 Eighth Ave. SE:. Lakefair queen and princesses will read to children.

    Noon-12:45 p.m. Opening ceremonies

    4-5 p.m. Delphi Band (rock)

    6-10 p.m. Battle of the Bands

    Thursday

    2:45-4:15 p.m.: Hook Me Up (jazz, light rock)

    4:45-6:15 p.m.: Slow Roller (Grateful Dead)

    7-7:30 p.m..: Meet the Lakefair queen and princesses. (The coronation occurred in February this year.)

    8-9 p.m.: Blues County Sheriff (blues, rock)

    9:30-11 p.m.: The Hard Way (rock)

    THE REST OF THE FEST

    July 19

    Senior Day

    July 20

    7 a.m.-noon: Olympia Half Marathon and 3K and 8K Fun Runs, Heritage Park; details at ontherunevents.com/lakefair

    Noon-4 p.m.: Kids Day in Sylvester Park

    5-7 p.m.: Lakefair Parade, from Capitol Way and 20th Avenue to Fifth Avenue and Simmons Street

    6-8:30 p.m.: South Sound Voice singing competition

    July 21

    10 p.m.: Fireworks with recorded music

    WANT TO HELP?

    It’s not too late to volunteer to help with this year’s festival. People who are interested may call 360-943-7344, email office@lakefair.org or visit lakefair.org. Or Lakefair Executive Director Bob Barnes suggests showing up Saturday morning. “We’d never turn anybody away,” he said. “Our crew is down there at 6 o’clock on Saturday to set up the food booths. It’s a 12-hour day.”

It’s time once again for Lakefair to take over downtown Olympia, filling the lakefront with carnival rides and food booths, the streets with merrymakers and jaywalkers, and the parking spots and parking lots with lots and lots of cars.

The five-day, 56th annual festival begins Wednesday. But the work it takes to put on a festival of this magnitude goes on for most of the year, said Bob Barnes, the festival’s executive director.

And creating an event of this size takes a lot of volunteer power, which has been in short supply in recent years.

“We are getting older,” Barnes said of the Capitalarians, the group behind Lakefair. “It’s the younger people that we need. I hear that in the Rotaries and the Kiwanis and the folks in Pride. It’s a very big issue.”

“The great thing about these small-town festivals is that they are uber-local, fun and free,” said Anna Schlecht, the co-chair of Capital City Pride Festival. “But the free part does cost something. It costs a lot of volunteer time; it costs a lot of fundraising effort.

“Pride always gets volunteers, people who are willing to work during the festival and do a little bit in advance, but it’s hard to get people deeply involved. These community festivals are truly like running a small business. They take a year-round effort.”

For the past six years, Lakefair has been getting lots of help from Olympia’s Church of Living Water, which has organized about 300 volunteers to staff the event, Barnes said.

“They run the parade,” he said. “They run Kids Day. They have made Lakefair week a whole lot easier for a whole lot of people.”

But there’s a definite need to find more people who are interested in organizing the event throughout the year.

“Lakefair used to be built around the younger people, the business people,” Barnes said. “Now, the younger folks from 25 to 40 are so busy in their lives. It’s very difficult to get volunteers.

“We have some volunteers who will work a couple of hours at Lakefair time,” he said. “The amount of people and the amount of time they are willing to give is just not at the same level it was 10 years ago or 15 years ago.”

There is one younger regular volunteer, 40-year-old David Scherer Water, the man behind the Flat Win Co. and such events as the downtown ball drop and snow rave that ushered in 2012.

“There’s a joke that Bob Barnes introduces me as the future president of Lakefair,” Scherer Water said. “Not to go around democratic process, but I’m the only one involved in my age bracket.”

He isn’t worried about the event’s future, though.

“Lakefair has evolved every decade,” he said. “It needs to evolve again. There’s a constant state of collapse and rebirth with any festival. Lakefair will rise up again as something new.”

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