Arts & Culture

Families take note: Olympia Arts Walk is upping its kids’ stuff quotient

Luci Pugh, 5, chases bubbles while playing with her dad on Washington Street during 2016 Spring Arts Walk in downtown Olympia. The city is aiming to add more family activities to this weekend’s Arts Walk.
Luci Pugh, 5, chases bubbles while playing with her dad on Washington Street during 2016 Spring Arts Walk in downtown Olympia. The city is aiming to add more family activities to this weekend’s Arts Walk. Olympian file photo

At Olympia’s 58th Arts Walk, the arts are just the start.

The city is aiming to add a family festival feeling to the event, traditionally a mix of gallery walk, performance festival and block party.

The Department of Parks, Arts & Recreation, which organizes the happening that draws thousands of people downtown to see and be seen, is expanding its activities for children and families.

“The vision is to create an arts and recreation space that will be a draw for youth and families,” said event organizer Angel Nava. “I’m so excited.”

The pop-up arts and recreation center, which will be along Fifth Avenue between Washington Street and Capitol Way, will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

It will host not only the traditional face painting and a project from the Hands On Children’s Museum (making paper flowers) but also a pop-up skate park, previously used at the Artesian Well, and space devoted to ping pong, bubble blowing and drawing with sidewalk chalk.

The space also will offer instant poetry, composed and typed up on the spot by Olympia Poet Laureate Sady Sparks and others.

Friday night, kids can make luminaries, paper lanterns illuminated by glow sticks, that they could use in the Luminary Procession that evening.

The area also will offer what Nava terms “an emerging food-truck village,” featuring South Bay BBQ, Tornado Potato and Blissful Wunders chocolates, and dining space — 400 square feet of standing bistro tables and another 400 square feet of tent seating.

“We have places for people to gather and connect,” she said, adding that the covered seating also can serve as a shelter from the rain, if necessary.

The intersection of Washington Street and Fifth Avenue is the hub for street performances, which this year will include Studio West Dance Academy performing from 7:30 to 8 p.m. Friday plus the usual array of surprises.

The city also is aiming to attract more engaging activities to Arts Walk with its new Innovation Awards. Among the winners are the Tenino Stone Carvers, who’ll be leading demonstrations and teaching workshops between the pop-up rec center and the intersection.

“This will be the first time that we are bringing our whole operation to Arts Walk and offering activities,” said carver Ed Salerno.

Salerno and carver Dan Miller will demonstrate carving from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, and master carver Keith Phillips, who carved replacement stones for the Capitol dome after the 2001 earthquake, will do a demonstration from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

At the same time, the carvers — who teach classes at their workshop and studio — will offer kids a chance to try carving both Tenino sandstone and soapstone. The workshop is best suited to children 8 and older, Salerno said, though younger ones are welcome to try.

Arts Walk

  • What: The free twice-yearly event showcases visual and performing arts at 96 businesses and other locations in downtown Olympia.
  • When: 5-10 p.m. Friday and noon-5 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Throughout downtown Olympia
  • Maps: olympiawa.gov/artswalkmap and at participating businesses
  • More information: 360-753-8380, olympiawa.gov/artswalk
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