How do you do Lakefair?

Olympia’s lakeside summer party includes carnival rides, decadent food and a parade

Contributing writerJuly 11, 2014 

On Wednesday, Lakefair — the festival that blends food, fireworks, rides, music, a parade and plenty of hometown pride — begins its 57th year.

To some, Lakefair means the princesses and queens who wave from the floats of Saturday’s parade.

To some, it’s all about the carnival.

To some, it’s mostly about the people. The festival brings big crowds downtown, making for some great people watching – and more than a few hassles for drivers.

Some love it and make a tradition of wristband night. (That’s Thursday, when unlimited rides are available for $30.)

And some hate it. Last year, someone started a Facebook page called Boycott Olympia Lakefair. But although many Olympia residents have complaints about the fair, only 75 people liked the page.

Whatever your feelings are about Lakefair, we all have to eat, and food is a huge part of the fair.

Normally, downtown Olympia is a good dining spot for vegans, those with dietary restrictions and even those who prefer raw food. During Lakefair, it magically becomes a place for carnivores and junk-food lovers. And all of it benefits community groups.

Last year, the famous Demo Burger — sold as a fundraiser for the Democratic Party — was joined by the Liberty Burger, a one-third pound burger infused with bacon. And then there are the fried elephant ears and the various other concoctions built on a base of soft-serve vanilla ice cream.

Just how much is Lakefair connected to culinary excess?

The Capitalarians, the club that puts on the festival with help from community volunteers, have offered for sale decorative items from past floats, including two real surfboards and a jukebox made of plastic foam.

“After 50 some years, you can only store so much,” said Bob Barnes, the fair’s executive director. “We really don’t reuse a lot of it.”

The sale’s piece de resistance is a 6-foot long Butterfinger bar, used on the 2011 float.

“The float theme that year was Candyland,” Barnes said. “On the back end, we had this big Butterfinger bar with a big bite out of it.”

The bar looks delicious, and any reasonable offer will be considered.

Just one catch: It, too, is made of plastic foam.

Capital Lakefair

What: The 57th annual Capital Lakefair — which takes place on the shores of Capitol Lake — is a five-day celebration filled with music, carnival rides, fireworks, a grand parade and food, food, food.

When: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Wednesday, noon-11 p.m. Thursday through July 19, noon-midnight July 20

Where: Capitol Lake, Olympia

Cost: Admission is free; take money for rides, games, food, etc.

Information: 360-943-7344 or lakefair.org

HIGHLIGHTS

Daily through July 25

10 a.m.-6 p.m. Lakefair Juried Art Show, Governor Hotel, 621 Capitol Way S.

Wednesday

2-3:30 p.m. Vertigo

4-5:30 p.m. Scott Cossu Trio (piano)

6-10 p.m. Battle of the Bands

Thursday

Noon-8 p.m. Wristbands for sale, offering unlimited rides for $30 on Thursday only

2-3:30 p.m. Marcello P.

4-5:30 p.m. Brittany Kingery (pop)

7-8 p.m. Royalty Night, a chance to meet the Lakefair queen and princesses

8:30-10 p.m. Randy Hansen (Jimi Hendrix tribute)

July 18

10 a.m.-3 p.m. Senior Day, with activities and entertainment for ages 55 and older

5:30-9:30 p.m. Lakefair Car Show, Marathon Park and Deschutes Parkway

July 19

7 a.m.-noon Olympia half-marathon and 3K and 8K fun runs, Heritage Park; information at ontherunevents.com/lakefair

9:15 a.m. Volleyball tournament; information at lakefairvolleyball.com

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

7-9 p.m. South Sound Voice singing competition

July 20

9:15 a.m. Volleyball tournament; information at lakefairvolleyball.com

10 p.m. Grand finale fireworks display

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