Capital Lakefair 2014 kicks off Wednesday with five days of food and fun

The 57th annual Capital Lakefair begins Wednesday with five days of food, carnival rides, live music and more in downtown Olympia.

Highlights include Saturday’s parade and Sunday’s fireworks, but another main attraction is the cuisine.

Volunteers with the Saint Martin University Alumni Association made final touches to their food trailer Tuesday afternoon on Water Street. The association has been the top-selling food vendor at Lakefair for several years, said volunteer Mike Halliday.

The trailer cranks out 1,200 burgers a day, but curly fries are the runaway hit. Halliday expects to go through 5,000 pounds of potatoes and 100 cans of ketchup in five days. Each order of curly fries comes from a one-pound potato that goes through a drill-powered slicer.

“We set a sales record last year by doing $9,200 on Sunday,” he said, adding that proceeds go toward scholarships.

During the fair, the pace and heat can be furious inside the Saint Martin trailer, said volunteer Terry Massoth.

“We have air conditioning, but you wouldn’t know it by 2 p.m.,” said Massoth, noting the tiny fans and windows in the trailer. “It’s just dripping in there.”

This year’s music stage will be Lakefair’s biggest yet, said Cliff Verhoeff of SAG Audio and Staging in Everett. Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers helped with Tuesday’s stage setup, which took about seven hours to complete, he said.

“This is the largest, most state-of-the-art stage ever at Lakefair,” he said.

Among vendors setting up Tuesday was a couple named Big Kahuna and Mrs. Big Kahuna. They sell their homemade tie-dye shirts across Washington and Oregon all summer long. The couple hails from Butte County in northern California, and has sold shirts at Lakefair for eight years.

“All these shirts are tie-dyed in our barn in the northern Sierra foothills,” said Mrs. Big Kahuna as the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” played on a radio inside their tent, which smelled like incense. “When we come up to Washington, tie-dye is a uniform.”