Harbor Days return to Olympia

Staff writerAugust 31, 2013 

Music played on the main stage, and lines were formed to tour tugboats moored along Percival Landing in Olympia on Saturday.

But the Harbor Days festival didn’t officially begin for the Sapp family until they had red beans and rice, an elephant ear and some snow cones.

“The directive was to get to the food,” Gregg Sapp of Tumwater said with a chuckle.

Throughout the weekend, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people are expected to attend the celebration which began Friday and wraps up today, according to Bob Peck, president of the South Sound Maritime Heritage Association.

“This is the 40th year,” he said. “It’s been a festival that’s revolved around formerly working vintage tugboats. They’re the featured attraction.”

Several of the 20 or so tugboats at the festival were open for tours on Saturday.

Jim and Nancy Snodgrass, who are visiting the area from Noble, Oklahoma, said they didn’t want to wait in lines, but they were content looking at the boats from a distance.

“It reminds me of old times,” she said.

“I think it’s a great community event,” he added.

This is the fifth year Jim and Dorothea Bennett of Port Orchard have brought their 65-foot tug Thea Belle to the festival.

They said they love sharing stories about their boat’s rich history, which includes service for the U.S. Navy in Pearl Harbor, and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

Jim Bennett said he also likes participating in the tugboat races which begin at noon today.

“I consider myself winning if I finish,” he said.

“If you don’t break something you’re a winner,” added his friend Mike Ruhle of Sitka, Alaska.

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