Tugboat races on Budd Inlet.

Make way for the 46th annual edition of Olympia Harbor Days Vintage Tugboat Festival and Races.  This is the South Sound’s largest family friendly, free maritime festival at the Olympia waterfront Friday, August 30 – Sunday, September 1, Labor Day weekend. This award winning  live event, presented by the Olympia Kiwanis Club with title sponsor the Squaxin Island Tribe, grows bigger and better every year.  “This year we have collaborated with community groups and have expanded to bring pre and post activities to the festival and continue to expand daily offerings.  I enjoy organizing and growing this live event and creating lasting memoires for the whole family.” says Executive Director Carol Riley.

What’s new?  The festival has teamed with the Capitol Volkssport Club to offer a pre-festival 5K or 10K “Walkabout the Harbor “at your own pace.  Registration starts at 2 PM at Batdorf and Bronson on Market Street where you can pick up your step by step map – note this is not fast walking or racing, a small fee for club members may apply.  After a day at the festival, stay for “Harbor Days after Dark” starting at 8PM at the Port Plaza after closing both Friday and Saturday evening for a free live theater performance of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” offered by OlyArts Magazine, a local art publication.  Olympia Harbor Days and The Seafarer Collective have created an introductory class for teens 12 to 18 years old called “Working on the Water,” offering insight to maritime educational and career pathways.  The 1.5 hour class will be held aboard Virginia V Saturday at 9:30 AM.  Participants must be registered in advanced and be accompanied by an adult if under 16 years of age.  Lodging and festival information for these and all activities can be found at HarborDays.com.

New tugboats, some never seen in Olympia, will be moored alongside old favorites!  “It is all about the Vintage Tugboats and Towboats of the Puget Sound”, Riley says.  Tour 18 vintage tugs on Saturday and watch the World’s Largest Vintage Tugboat Races on Sunday in the deep channel of Budd Inlet.  Wander the WWII History Museum aboard Tug Comanche.  Explore a Bering Sea fishing vessel.   Cruise the harbor aboard the Mosquito Fleet steam ship Virginia V.  Sail on the Lady Washington.  Ask permission to board the Admiral’s Barge, the Old Man IV.  Check out the details and craftsmanship on mini ¼ scale tugs and watch a boat build in progress.  Purchase tickets for cruises and sailings at www.HarborDays.com.  “Ships of the Harbor” is sponsored by Capital Heating & Cooling and Tugboat Show and Races in part by Dunlap Towing, Brusco Tug and Barge and the Fremont Tugboat Company.

The Squaxin Island Tribe is offering a Native American Arts and Crafts Show with cultural activities and performances at the Squaxin Island Salish Seaport  at the Port Plaza (near the Farmers Market) at the north end of the festival.  The Port Plaza also is home to robotics, remote control tugs, the Hands On Children’s Museum “Rumble Tug” make and race booth.  The Kiwanis offer food in this area and adults 21 and over can cool off at the Beerwerks Beer, Wine, and Cider Garden.

Wander south on the boardwalk to the Midway Stage and find demos, music and the famous Quick Carve Contest , where two competing professional sand carvers race the clock.  Further south at Percival Landing find the large Sand Carving Harbor display created by Form Finders and sponsored by Commencement Bank and OS&G Dozing.

Find hundreds of arts, crafts and commercial booth vendors along the boardwalk.  Enjoy three meals a day from the OHD Food G’Alley featuring a salmon bake, oysters, and other tasty treats.  A picnic area is set in front of Washington’s Lottery Main Stage offering a mix of area classic rock bands and talented musicians.  Returning this year by popular demand:   Pacific Beat - America’s First Corp Army Band, The Budd Bay Sea Shanty Singers, and the River Ridge High School Taiko Drumming Ensemble.  

Find the inner pirate in you - join the Procession of the Pirates Samba Olywa style on Sunday.  Kids dressed as pirates can search for a prize in the Kiwanis treasure chest located at the Harbor House Information Center!  Be sure to stop by the pirate booth offered by SWWA Big Brothers Big Sisters, who are holding their Big Car Raffle and announcing the winner Sunday at 5PM.

Kids of all ages can build and float tugboats in an interactive legos building station, learn about marine science on land and dock side activity centers, enjoy face painters, balloon artists and play interactive games and more thanks to sponsorship by Heritage Bank, and local non-profits.   

Riley, creator of the popular and award winning ‘Cruise to Olympia Weekend Getaway’ says “there is still room for a unique weekend getaway cruise aboard the Virginia V and hotel stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton, but you must act fast”. 

This fun filled and huge festival that spans the entire waterfront in Olympia is a must for end of the summer family fun.  There is something at every turn and you just may spot a band of roving pirates, a Barbershop chorus or even Amazon of Olympia as Wonder Woman! 

So make your way by land or sea and cruise on down to Olympia Harbor Days! For a complete schedule, map, parking, lodging and all festival details or for more information, please visit www.HarborDays.com.   Net proceeds and a suggested $5 per person donation help support Kiwanis activities that benefit kids and their families.

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