It had been six years since Norinda Snyder of Yelm donned the glittering hand-sewn champagne dress and floral hat.
The ensemble matched her late husband’s vest — one of the many outfits she tailored for them to wear during visits to America’s Classic Jazz Festival.
She hadn’t worn one of her creations since her husband died in 2007.
“It’s my first time that I am wearing my jazz clothes since he passed,” Snyder said at the 23rd annual event Saturday, watching the couples swing to the beat. “We used to dress alike. … It’s just fun. I’ve been going since the ’90s.”
Snyder was among thousands who turned out for the four-day festival that kicked off Thursday at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey.
The celebration of American jazz, from Dixieland to the blues, draws many out-of-state attendees. One couple hailed from England, said festival director Charlotte Dickison.
The volunteer-run event boasts 99 performances, translating into roughly 99 hours of music for crowds that typically average 5,500 for the festival’s run.
Dickison felt they were on pace for already meeting or surpassing that mark Saturday.
“We had a full house Thursday night,” Dickison said. “It was the best crowd we have ever had for a Thursday.”
Some out-of-towners opted to stay in hotels, while another 70 or 80 groups decided to stay as close to the festival as possible by camping out in recreational vehicles on campus.
If the event grows much more, organizers aren’t sure how they could accommodate everyone.
“We don’t have any place to even put up another tent,” said Walt Bowen, assistant festival director. “It’s a destination now. It’s probably the best-kept secret in Olympia.”
A pair of Colorado natives discovered the event by chance.
Jo Carol and Paul Sorokaty of Durango won tickets to attend from a raffle at another jazz festival earlier this spring.
After enjoying some music outside the pavilion Saturday, the pair put on their dancing shoes.
“We may almost be 100 years old out here, but we sure know how to have fun,” Jo Carol Sorokaty said.
The pair, members of the Denver Jazz Society, wore matching shirts with musical notes and dancing shoes on the back.
“I love traditional jazz and blues, and I love to dance,” Jo Carol said.