Fun events and things to do in Thurston and Pierce counties

Avril Pena and her dad Fernando have fun in Tractor Tracks at the 2015 Washington State Fair in Puyallup.
Avril Pena and her dad Fernando have fun in Tractor Tracks at the 2015 Washington State Fair in Puyallup. Olympian file photo

Aug. 30 to Sept. 22

At the fair

The Washington State Fair — that annual cornucopia of animals, rides, contests, scones and food on sticks — kicks off this weekend at the Events Center at 110 Ninth Ave. SW, Puyallup. Here are a few things to know before you go:

• The fair has tightened security, so expect a bag check and metal detectors. Police officers will be stationed at entrances. The new measures are partly in response to recent mass shootings.

• Children and youths 18 and younger will be admitted free throughout Labor Day weekend. (Those 5 and younger are always free, and regular admission prices are $12-$14.)

• Among the big names performing during the fair’s first week are Billy Idol (Friday), Keith Urban (Saturday), Weezer (Sunday) and The Beach Boys (Monday). The Beach Boys is concert is free with fair admission; for the others, a separate ticket is necessary.

Check out all of the fair’s offerings at thefair.com.

Aug. 30

On a long, strange trip

The Grateful Dead — and its unofficial bandleader Jerry Garcia — have inspired Andy Coe since he was a child and saw the legendary band in concert. Since 2006, Coe of Seattle and his band have been playing the music of the Dead and The Jerry Garcia Band in an annual tribute to the guitarist and counterculture hero. Check out the Jerry Garcia Celebration at 10 p.m. Friday at Rhythm and Rye, 311 Capital Way N., Olympia. Tickets are $8-$10. Find out more at 360-705-0760 or andycoeband.com.

Aug. 30 to Sept. 1

On the water

In South Sound, Labor Day weekend is pretty much synonymous with Harbor Days, the Olympia Kiwanis Club’s annual maritime celebration. Vintage tugboats, which will race on Sunday afternoon, and other ships are the centerpiece of the festival, but there’s loads happening on land, too — fun and games, crafts, food and drink, pirates, performances and even an after-hours play (“The Tempest,” happening at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Port Plaza). Festival admission is free, though the club suggests a donation of $5 per person or $10 per family to benefit the club’s scholarships and activities that support children and families. Wander along the downtown Olympia waterfront and take it all in from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Get more information on the festival’s happenings at harbordays.com.

Aug. 30 to Sept. 1

Out of this world

Like any earthbound festival, the third annual Earth UFO Festival features live music, kids’ shows, bounce houses and beer. But there are also stranger things. A press release for the festival promises “a magic show from Neptune” and “a real flying saucer demo,” along with a nightly rocket launch and laser light show. The festival happens from 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Thurston County Fairgrounds, 3054 Carpenter Road SE, Lacey. Tickets are $7, with “human children” younger than 10 admitted free. Aliens — or those dressed as aliens — also get in free and are eligible to win cash prizes in the nightly alien contest. (Note that the contest is not described as a costume contest. The press release also notes: “Earthlings, remember: You may not believe in us, but we believe in you.”) Read up on all the details, and find out about the Cosmic Symposium happening in conjunction with the festival, at earthufofest.com or 785-425-4367.

Aug. 31

On the porch

Saturday is Play Music on the Porch Day, and there are multiple ways to participate. First, you could just play music on your own porch — or wherever. (The event logo proclaims, “No porch necessary.”) But you could join in with, or just listen to, someone else’s celebration. In Olympia, Celtic combo Pinniped and friends plan to play from 2 to 5 p.m. on a porch at the corner of Seventh and Sawyer streets in Olympia. Those looking for a more conventional concert can check out Pinniped from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, at the Olympia Farmers Market, 700 Capitol Way N., Olympia. Get more information at facebook.com/playmusicontheporchday/

Aug. 31

At the end of the line

West Central Park is wrapping up its summer concert series Saturday with a concert by The Heavy Pettys, an Olympia band whose members are pretty sure it’s the world’s only all-female Tom Petty tribute act. The Pettys’ debut concert during spring Arts Walk generated quite a bit of buzz. Tom’s tunes begin at 7 p.m. at the nonprofit community park, 1919 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia. The show is free. Find out more at aparkforus.org.

Sept. 3-27

On and off the walls

Yet another sign of that summer is wrapping up: South Puget Sound Community College’s annual Faculty and Staff Exhibition opens Tuesday, showcasing two- and three-dimensional works by members of the art department, including a game called “The Weight of Privilege,” made by ceramics artist Nicole Gugliotti in collaboration with fellow artist Mac McCusker, who lives in North Carolina. Ceramics artist Joe Batt, known for his sculptures of highly evolved rabbits, and gallery manager Sean Barnes are also among those featured in the show at the college’s Gallery, 2011 Mottman Road SW, Olympia. The show will be up through Sept. 27, when it closes with a reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, and the gallery is open from noon to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, excluding holidays. Get more information at 360-596-5527 or spscc.edu/gallery.

Freelance writer Molly Gilmore would like to hear from any friendly aliens who believe in her. Hear more from her about what’s happening around the Sound every Friday on 95.3 KGY’s “Oly in a Can.”