Lakefair: Here's how the show goes on

Capital Lakefair, Olympia’s annual celebration of community and of Capitol Lake, wraps up this weekend with Saturday’s parade and Sunday’s fireworks display.

And if you’ve lived in South Sound long, you undoubtedly know that. And you most likely know the traffic snarls and jaywalking pedestrians that mark the festival as surely as the Ferris wheel.

But what you might not know is what goes on behind the scenes to make the fair happen.

Serry Barnes is president of the Capitalarians, the group that — with help from other community volunteers — has put on the festival for more than five decades. Barnes and her husband, Bob Barnes, the executive director of the festival, are among the 35 or so Capitalarians who work hard all year to produce the fair and its associated events. The Lakefair queen and her court make community appearances all year long and travel, along with the Lakefair float, to about 18 parades throughout the Northwest.

“This year’s theme, ‘Thanks for the Memories,’ is a tribute to our community,” she said. “The Capitalarians and Lakefair are saying thank you for 57 years of support, but we’re also actively seeking support so that we can build a great festival in the future.

“I really believe that the majority of people love Lakefair,” she added. “They just don’t realize what it takes to put it on.”

Come Lakefair weekend, the Capitalarians host the groups that produce other regional festivals.

“We have a whole weekend event at the Red Lion Hotel,” Barnes said. “We have a formal dinner and a clambake. We host anywhere from 100 to 200 people for the weekend.

“Our parade is built upon the relationships that we have with the other festivals.”

The Rosarians, who put on the Portland Rose Festival, are one such group, and they repay the Capitalarians for their hospitality with the dedication of a rose Saturday at the Schmidt House, 330 Schmidt Place SW, Tumwater.

“The Rosarians come in their white wool suits,” Barnes said. “It’s a very formal affair, and it’s open to the public. It’s very significant to all of us who are involved in the festival circuit.”

That happens right before the parade that, along with the fireworks, are Lakefair’s most iconic events.

This year’s parade will feature 102 units, including several bands, a military color guard and at least three equestrian groups. “We usually have one or two horse units,” Bob Barnes said.

The grand marshal is former Secretary of State Sam Reed. “Not only was he a great statesman, but he is so involved in our community,” Serry Barnes said. “He’s a local guy, and everybody loves him.”

And the fireworks, provided by Entertainment Fireworks Inc. of Maytown, will not be affected by the explosion that killed an employee at the company’s headquarters last month.

“The fireworks are going to be spectacular this year,” Barnes said. “The show will go on.”

Another highlight of the weekend is the return of the Lakefair Car Show, missing last year because a sponsor dropped out at the last minute. The show features a wide array of cars from classic to new.

“It’s a great thing, and everybody enjoys it,” she said.

Capital Lakefair

What: The 57th annual Capital Lakefair — which is taking place on the shores of Capitol Lake — wraps up with music, rides, a parade and Sunday night’s fireworks display.

When: Noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to midnight Sunday

Where: Heritage Park and surroundings, Olympia

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

More information: 360-943-7344 or

To help: The Capitalarians, who put on Lakefair, are looking for new members and volunteers who’d like to help with the festival. Call 360-943-7344 or go to Lakefair highlights

Daily through July 25

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


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

3-4:30 p.m. Heart Hurt Goods (pop)

5-6:30 p.m. Hook Me Up (jazz)

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

7-8:30 p.m. Slow Roller (blues)

9-11 p.m. Ko Ko Jo (rock)


7 a.m.-noon. Olympia Half Marathon and 3K and 8K Fun Runs, Heritage Park; information at

9:15 a.m. Volleyball Tournament; information at

Noon-1 p.m. Honky Tonk Angels (country dance)

Noon-4 p.m. Kids Day in Sylvester Park

1-2 p.m. Evergreen Country Dancers

2-3 p.m. Tanglefoot Cloggers

3-4:30 p.m. Motor Car (rock and blues)

3:30 p.m. Rose dedication ceremony, Schmidt House, 330 Schmidt Place SW, Tumwater

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

9:30-11 p.m. Cream Tangerine (Beatles tribute)


9:15 a.m. Volleyball Tournament; information at

Noon-3:30 p.m. Rhythm Fire School

4-5:30 p.m. Unmarked Bills (rock)

6-8 p.m. Billy Farmer Band (rock)

8:30-10 p.m. Tayla Lynn (country)

10 p.m. Grand Finale Fireworks Display