What’s new this year at the Lacey Spring Fun Fair?
Not a whole lot, actually — and that’s good news for fans of the 23-year-old community festival, happening this weekend on the Saint Martin’s University campus.
“There are so many things that are so popular, so we always bring those back,” said festival coordinator Valerie Fluetsch. “Those are great traditions for people to bring their kids back to.
“We have the trout fishing and the pony rides and the circus train that meanders around the campus. Those are the things people are always looking for.”
The festival — with free entertainment and a variety of free activities for children — draws about 15,000 people each May. It began as a Lacey Chamber of Commerce event but now is organized by an independent committee.
“I enjoy seeing the families being able to come to a festival and not spend any money unless they choose to buy food or arts and crafts or things from commercial vendors,” said Ruth Weigelt, chairwoman of the festival committee.
The Hats and Music Parade, at noon Saturday, is another traditional favorite. It’s a nonmotorized parade.
“It’s about a mile and is just on the campus,” Fluetsch said. “It’s perfect for grandparents and little ones and strollers.”
Weigelt said, “We try to encourage people to be creative with their hats, and we’ve had some good ones. One year, a church made a huge hat that they had to carry.”
That’s not to say that there’ll be nothing new under the sun (or so the organizers hope; attendance rises significantly on a bright spring day).
There’s a petting zoo this year. “I believe there are bunnies, goats and baby ducks,” Fluetsch said.
The trout fishing, sponsored by Friends of the Cowlitz, is real fishing with real trout.
“Kids get to experience catching trout,” Fluetsch said. “They can release the fish, or they can take it home and eat it if they want.
“They go through a lot of trout, probably between 600 and 1,000.”
And children will have an opportunity to get up close to animals of the scaly variety.
“The Reptile Man will be there, and he hasn’t been there in a while,” Weigelt said. The Reptile Man, Scott Peterson, and a cast of snakes and lizards will do a show at 1 p.m. Saturday.
On Sunday, there’ll be another reptile show with Casey Lee, who’ll be on hand from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with smaller reptiles, amphibians and spiders.
There’s one new item that won’t be welcome, Fluetsch pointed out: The university is doing some construction, which means parking is limited.
“We really encourage people to take the bus or carpool,” she said. “That’s always good to do, anyway, but it’s even more important this year.”