A swing ride called Vertigo rises nearly 100 feet above Lakefair and offers sweeping views of downtown Olympia, but 90-year-old Joyce Gillie prefers to stick with her own tradition — and keep both feet on the ground.
“I’m just trying to stay vertical,” she said with a laugh Tuesday while waiting for a shipment of soft drinks to arrive for the 58th annual Capital Lakefair.
The five-day carnival kicks off Wednesday along the shores of Capitol Lake with rides, games, live music and plenty of food.
In 1977, Gillie helped establish the Zonta Club of Olympia food trailer, which will sell its signature German sausages starting at noon. The club raises money to improve the lives of women and has been a Lakefair fixture every year along Water Street.
“We always recommend eating on this strip because it’s all run by locals,” said Gillie, who looks forward to eating her first German sausage sandwich of the season.
Neighboring food trailers on Water Street serve up everything from burgers to elephant ears and are manned by the Tumwater Rotary Club, Olympia Kiwanis Club, Olympia Lions Club and Altrusa International, among others.
Another local staple is the Saint Martin’s University Alumni Association food trailer, known best for Saint Burgers and one-pound orders of curly fries. If you want grilled onions, you have to ask. Last year, the association’s trailer netted $10,000 in sales just on Sunday. Proceeds go toward scholarships.
“It was a record year for us,” said volunteer Mike Halliday.
Darla Baker travels the festival circuit with three food stations that serve hot dogs, cotton candy, pizza and snow cones. This is her eighth year at Lakefair. Although she has three employees, Baker said she hires up to 10 local people for temporary work.
“A lot of the same people come back,” she said while setting up Tuesday morning. She also gave a nod to Mother Nature, who provided sun and 70s for the setup: “Hopefully the weather stays like this.”
The forecast is for sunny, warm days, although temperatures could reach into the 90s by Saturday and Sunday.
Capital Lakefair runs noon-11 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday (July 15-18) and noon to midnight Sunday (July 19). Highlights include wristband day on Thursday ($35 for unlimited rides), the Grand Parade at 5 p.m. Saturday, and the Grand Finale fireworks at 10 p.m. Sunday night.