It’s going to be a very busy summer — and one that celebrates things you never imagined could be celebrated. Such as logs (June 26-28), water (Saturday and Sunday) and lawnmowers (July 18). This summer, you also can pet goats, eat an elephant ear, enter a pie contest, buy artwork and get a back-to-school health screening. You can watch dozens of bands and check out classic cars.
Above all, these events from now through Labor Day weekend celebrate the communities we call home.
If you plan well, you can hit as many as four festivals a day on July 11 and 18. Those appear to be the peak weekends for summer festival goers. So plan accordingly.
Listed here, you’ll find festivals with a community focus, and organized by a city entity or a civic or community organization.
UNIVERSITY PLACE DUCK DAZE
Food trucks, fountains, face-painting, fun — it’s all there at the University Place Duck Daze, which now has even more reason to celebrate, with a new glass sculpture visible inside and out of the civic building’s atrium and the brand-new Whole Foods just next door. Buy a breakfast oatmeal bar there before 10:30 a.m., and they’ll donate $1 to Peace Out.
GIG HARBOR MARITIME GIG FEST
It’s a weekend of waterfront fun at the Maritime Gig Fest in Gig Harbor, with favorite events like the Fun Run, Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast, Grand Parade and Round Rock Contest. Get ready for music and entertainment, food vendors, historic boat displays and loads of children's activities.
ROY PIONEER RODEOS
The Roy Pioneer Rodeo draws participants and rodeo fans from around the Northwest to watch events such as calf roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. Concessions at the venue include souvenirs, food and a beer and wine garden.
A three-day celebration of the Puyallup community, sponsored by the Puyallup Main Street Association, featuring a vendor fair, battle of the bands and antique tractor display.
BUCKLEY LOG SHOW
Includes a carnival and a city parade at 10 a.m. June 27, with the log show beginning at noon afterward. The log show will continue June 28. A vendor fair takes place June 27-28.
TACOMA HIGHLAND GAMES
The 46th Tacoma Highland Games starts with a Celtic concert to get athletes and spectators ready for the next day’s competitions in Scottish sporting events, piping and drumming and Highland dance. Bring your kilt and see how you stack up in the heavy events. These are basically games that determine who can throw really heavy stuff (cabers, weights, weights, hammers, sheafs) the farthest or highest. Scottish meat pies, sausage rolls, shepherd pie and haggis will be available at the concession stand.
LAKEWOOD SUMMER FEST
A one-day city-sponsored festival with a car show, triathalon (10 a.m.), vendor fair, kids play area with a petting zoo, food and live music.
TACOMA’S OLD TOWN RHYTHM AND BLUES FESTIVAL
Puget Sound blues icon Little Bill will play Tacoma’s Old Town Rhythm and Blues Festival. Other performers include Jr. Hill Band, Dean Reichert Band, James King Band, Driving Sideways. During the day, acts will play on an outdoor stage. Evening events will occur inside The Spar and Slovonian Hall. Entry for those evening shows is $20 and limited to 21 and over.
OUT IN THE PARK
Tacoma Pride honors Pierce County’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community with Out in the Park, a day-long celebration includes entertainment and community resources. The all-ages outdoor street festival brings visibility and unity to the LGBT community. Two stages provide non-stop entertainment including the Kim Archer Band and Gritty City Sirens. Food vendors will sell meals. A beer garden will provide adult beverages, and a kids fun zone will keep children entertained.
ART ON THE AVE
Commerce, community and culture is the goal of Art on the Ave, which unites local businesses, restaurants, residents and artists in a celebration that’s sometimes quirky (think intersection-sized Monopoly games or sewing-machine performance art), sometimes elevated (singer Vicci Martinez was a regular here) and always different. There’s something for everyone, whether beer gardens, skate ramps or hula hooping.
A festival with handcar races, lawn mower races, a tug-o-war competition and a parade.
GIG HARBOR SUMMER ART FESTIVAL
Organized by the Peninsula Art League, the Gig Harbor Summer Art Festival brings together over 120 artists, a member exhibition, sidewalk chalking and all the usual food, drink and entertainment in the historic waterfront downtown.
RHUBARB DAYS FESTIVAL
A celebration of Sumner’s long legacy with growing rhubarb. This year’s festival has been combined with the historic Sumner Fine Arts Festival. A vendor fair with arts and crafts booths; bake-off competition; beer garden; petting zoo; photo contest and farmers market.
TACOMA MARITIME FEST
2015 marks the 23rd iteration of the Tacoma Maritime Fest. The weekend festival has entertainment, food and a number of water-related activities. A large variety of ships will be on display. The Quick & Dirty Boat Building competition will occur. The festival celebrates the history and accomplishments of Tacoma’s waterfront.
TACOMA JAZZ AND BLUES FESTIVAL
Blues legend Curtis Salgado headlines this year’s lineup at the Tacoma Jazz and Blues Festival. Salgado influenced actor and Blues Brother John Belushi before going on to have his own distinguished career as singer, songwriter and master of the harmonica. Also on the bill are Tacoma “The Voice” contestant Stephanie Anne Johnson, Kareem Kandi, Lance Buller, Rich Wetzel and several others, all on three stages. Parachute canopies will provide shade this year. The beer garden promises to be bigger and better.
Few regions in the United States can boast more ethnic diversity than Puget Sound, and Metro Parks’ Ethnic Fest celebrates most of them with a weekend of entertainment, food and culture. Since 1986, the festival has brought together people of multitude backgrounds to share and learn each other’s roots.
STEILACOOM SALMON BAKE
The Steilacoom Historical Museum Association’s annual event is more than just the traditional salmon dinner. Live entertainment, vendors, ice cream, pie and games on the beach are all part of the festivities. Tom Kurtz of the SHMA says groups from Steilacoom High participate in the event. A vendor will be giving free coffee samples this year.
PROCTOR ARTS FEST
One of the longest-running community festivals in Tacoma, the 18-year-old Proctor Arts Fest features local arts, crafts, entertainment, dog fashion shows, demonstrations like blacksmithing and wool spinning, and an original juried art show in the Mason United Methodist Church. Add in a farmers market, a kids zone and all the Proctor retailers (gifts, clothes, games) and you’ve got some artsy fun happening.
PIERCE COUNTY FAIR
The Pierce County Fair, in its 68th year, bills itself as a “celebration of rural life, agriculture and good ol’ family values.” The four day fair packs Frontier Park with 80 vendors, rides, 4-H and Future Farmers of America activities and other goings-on. Entertainment includes acrobats, magicians, hypnotists and illusionists. Kids can marvel at goats, rabbits, dogs, horses, llamas, livestock and other animals.
EATONVILLE ART FESTIVAL
The Eatonville Lions Club presents the 44th annual arts festival in Glacier View Park, with a beer garden, live entertainment (harp, country, big band, rock and more), kids’ activities, and 100 Northwest artists and craftspeople showing and selling their wares. Bid at the live or silent auctions — all proceeds go to help the Lions Club donate eyeglasses or hearing aids to those in need.
FIRCREST FUN DAYS
This celebration of small-town living, where neighbors gather to catch up and let the kids play. The events include live entertainment, rides, games, food booths, vendors and a fireworks show.
MUSIC AND ART IN WRIGHT PARK
There’s no mistaking what this festival is about or where it occurs. Music and Art in Wright Park is a family friendly festival of art, music, crafts and food trucks. Rock, alternative, pop and punk are some of the music genres represented.
MCKINLEY HILL STREET FEST
A community festival featuring a back-to-school health fair (including health screenings), a backpack giveaway to children who attend, live music, a vendor fair and many restaurants.
HILLTOP STREET FAIR
Kick-started by a Tacoma Arts Commission grant last year, the first-ever Hilltop Street Fair celebrates everything Hilltop including food, entertainment, community health information, the Buffalo Soldiers Museum, vendors, a car show and more. There’s also the awards ceremony for Hilltop Heroes, awards in three categories and five individuals who contribute to building up the Hilltop community.