Olympia is gearing up for Procession of the Species and spring Arts Walk, two events that add up to what’s arguably Olympia’s biggest celebration of the year.
It’s as big to many in Olympia as Christmas is to Santa-loving kids.
And like one of those kids, the Olympia Timberland Regional Library is eagerly looking forward to the big events, offering special programs to get people in the spirit.
“We are part of this community, and we want to be part of these huge community events,” said librarian Mary Rulewicz. “The library is not just a place to pick up your books or your movies: It’s an exciting community meeting place. It’s a place to learn about culture, to interact with artists and scientists.”
Last month, the library began ramping up to the weekend of April 25 and 26 with a series of talks by local artists. This month, it’s offering four talks about wildlife to “Celebrate the Species,” and a series of Arts Walk workshops for youths. The workshops will culminate in exhibits and performances for the events April 25 and 26.
“Celebrate the Species” drew a crowd when it made its debut last spring, said Rulewicz, who organized the artists’ talks and “Celebrate the Species.”
“Last year, we had 70 to 80 people coming to every talk,” she said.
There’s definitely lots of enthusiasm in the community for both Procession, the do-it-yourself non-motorized Earth Day spectacle that is now 20 years old, and Arts Walk, the semiannual event that’s as much about people-watching and socializing as it is about seeing art of all kinds by artists from preschool to professional.
Of course, the library is not the only place to prepare for the Procession of the Species.
Those planning to dress as their favorite natural wonder can prepare at the Procession Studio, staffed with volunteers who can help with costume ideas and how-tos.
The studio space is smaller this year, and there are fewer free supplies on hand. “We’ve been unable to secure an adjunct studio space where we can build bigger stuff,” founder Eli Sterling said, adding that he’s still looking for a warehouse or similar space.
If the space has shrunk, though, the excitement of preparing is the same.
“People can still come to the studio and get help making any of the art that they’ve seen in the procession,” he said. “The studio looks beautiful and it’s a great delight to be here.
“There’s an open invitation for people to come by and visit.”
As for Arts Walk, it is expanding this spring. While the 126 stops is close to last spring’s 128, this time around the event has clusters of stops to both the north and south of the downtown core, plus another cluster near City Hall to the east.
The locations to the south include the library, which participated the first time as an official stop last fall.
“You have these great outside-the-center areas that have a lot of stops you can get to right away,” said Stephanie Johnson, who organizes the event for the city’s Department of Parks, Arts and Recreation. “Those are great places to park and start, and then you can work your way in toward the center.”
Procession of the Species
What: The 20th annual procession celebrates the natural world through music, art and dance. Spectators are invited to create chalk art in the streets before the procession.
When: 4:30 p.m. April 26
Where: Downtown Olympia. Registration begins at 3:30 p.m. Participants assemble on Legion Way and Cherry Street between Jefferson and Chestnut, and the winding parade route, which ends at Heritage Park, is on the Arts Walk maps available free at local businesses and The Olympia Center.
Admission: Free. Donations to the Thurston County Food Bank are encouraged.
More information: 360-705-1087 or procession.org
Also: The Luminary Procession is at 9:30 p.m. April 25 beginning at Fifth Avenue and Washington Street.
Get ready: Get ideas and costume help at the Procession Studio, 311 Capitol Way N., Olympia, which is open from 3 to 8 p.m. weekdays, from noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and by appointment for groups. For listings of art workshops and music and dance practices, go to procession.org.
Celebrate the Species
What: Olympia Timberland Library gears up for the Procession with a series of four talks on local wildlife.
When: 7:30 to 8:45 p.m. Wednesdays through the end of April
Where: Olympia Timberland Library, 313 Eighth Ave. SE, Olympia
More information: 360-412-4499 or trl.org
Schedule: “Urban Animals,” with Lyanda Lynn Haupt, April 9; “The Marbled Murrelet” with Maria Mudd Ruth, April 16; “Bats,” with Greg Falxa, April 23; “Butterflies and Moths” with Arlo Pelegrin, April 30
Arts Walk XLVIII
What: The free semiannual festival’s spring outing features visual and performing arts at 126 downtown businesses and on the streets of Olympia.
When: 5 to 10 p.m. April 25 and noon to 8 p.m. April 26
Where: Throughout downtown Olympia
More information: 360-753-8380 or olympiawa.gov/artswalk or olympiawa.gov/artswalkmobile. Maps will be available soon at participating businesses and at The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. N.W., Olympia, and Olympia City Hall, 601 Fourth Ave., Olympia.
What: These workshops will culminate in opportunities for youth to perform and/or show their work at Arts Walk.
Where: Olympia Timberland Library, 313 8th Ave. SE, Olympia
Admission: Free, but registration is required. Call 360-412-4499 or stop by the library.
Schedule: Hands-On Cameraless Film Animation with Devon Damonte (for grades 6-12), noon to 4 p.m. this Saturday; Tinkertopia Recycled Art Workshop (for kindergarten through 5th grade), 2-4 p.m. April 9; Jusby’s Crash Course Clown Camp (for ages 7-17), 3 to 5 p.m. April 12 and 19, and 5 to 6 p.m. April 25.