This already hot week is about to get hotter.
Freedom Fair will sizzle all day Saturday on the Ruston Way waterfront with food booths, music, aerial acrobatics and a fireworks finale.
“It’s a fun family event. You can bring your kids,” said festival director Gary Grape of the nonprofit Tacoma Events Commission.
Food and drink will be provided by Ruston Way restaurants and by food booths at three locations: Dickman Mill Park, Les Davis Pier and near the Silver Cloud Inn.
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More than 100 arts, crafts and commercial vendors will sell their wares.
A kids area with inflatable toys will keep young revelers busy at Camp Patriot in Marine Park.
The annual car show has hot rods, muscle cars, street rods and other classic cars from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. next to the Lobster Shop parking lot. The Smoke-n-Thunder JetCar that will race at Gig Harbor Wings & Wheels on Sunday will be parked next to Duke’s Chowder House.
The popular Freedom Fair tradition of pole vaulting will be back for its 20th year. The competition features prep, college and post-collegiate vaulters trying to achieve personal bests.
Aerial acrobats of the wheeled variety will ride their BMX bikes at three shows (3:30, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.) at the RAM Bighorn stage.
The Katie Downs Stage will have three tribute bands (The Cars, The Moody Blues, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.)
The Swiss Stage at Dickman Mill Park will feature youth bands.
The Ram Bighorn Stage outside The Ram restaurant has a cross section of music on its schedule.
Duke’s Chowder House Blues Stage will feature several acts during the day. Four blues bands will perform as part of the Back to Beale Street Blues competition.
Camp Patriot is geared for military veterans. The main stage will have entertainment all day with headliner Mike Pinera, a guitarist for Alice Cooper, and Iron Butterfly, at 8 p.m. It also has a car show, vendor and food booths, military displays and activities for kids.
New this year is the U.S. Air Force’s Super Car “Vapor.” The customized Dodge Challenger showcases the cyber, stealth and space technology of the Air Force. An accompanying exhibit has touch screens showing how the car was built and displaying its specs.
Congo Productions will have a drum circle at the east end of Marine Park from 2-8 p.m.
A 90-minute civilian air show — with one military participant — replaces the usual two-hour show that was roughly half military. This marks the third year with little to no military aircraft in Tacoma.
Time: 1:30-3 p.m.
Prime location: Marine Park between Lobster Shop and Katie Downs.
• Vicky Benzing flying a Stearman biplane.
• A Sukhoi SU-29 flown by Renny Price.
• Canadian aerobatic team Yellow Thunder, made up of brothers David and Drew Watson, who fly World War II-era trainers in formation.
• Commemorative Air Force Red Tail squadron. A “Tuskegee Airman” P-51C Mustang will fly, and the group’s “Rise Above” traveling exhibition will be set up Sunday at the Gig Harbor Wings and Wheels car and air show at the Tacoma Narrows Airport. (See accompanying stories.)
• P-51D “Speedball Alice,” owned and flown by Dan Vance.
• West Coast Ravens, a volunteer formation team.
• A TA-4J U.S. naval jet trainer Skyhawk flown by Don Keating
• A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo jet
The finale of Freedom Fair, the fireworks show, begins at 10:10 p.m. Shells ranging up to the size of basketballs and reaching a height of a quarter mile will be launched from the fireworks barge, anchored in Commencement Bay in front of Katie Downs.
The display will be synchronized to a patriotic and classic-themed soundtrack broadcast from sound systems at the festival and on Click 98.9 FM and KLAY AM 1180.
With more than 100,000 people packed into Ruston Way, getting in and out requires advance planning.
Pedestrian access to Ruston Way:
• McCarver Street in Old Town Tacoma. This is where the Freedom Fair Express Bus will drop off passengers.
• North Alder Way (via North 36th Street).
• North Ferdinand Street.
• From the town of Ruston via Ruston Way.
Freedom Fair Express Bus: Park free at the Tacoma Dome Station parking garage on Puyallup Avenue (stations are between East G Street and McKinley Avenue East) or at Tacoma Community College (corner of South 12th and Mildred streets) and take the express buses to the main entrance of Freedom Fair (McCarver and North 30th streets) for $5 roundtrip. Bus service begins at 10 a.m. and will take festivalgoers to the waterfront until 8 p.m. Return trips to the parking areas are suspended at 8 p.m. and then begin again at the end of the fireworks display. Return trips run for about an hour after the conclusion of Freedom Fair. Tickets can be purchased online or in person.
On-site parking: Public parking and disability parking on Ruston Way is on a first-come, first-served basis for $15 per car. Enter via North Ferdinand Street.
With continuing hot weather forecast, don’t forget sunscreen, sunglasses, hats and water.
Dogs are not banned, just highly discouraged. Crowds are thick, and people spread out on grassy areas. Pavement might be hot. Scoop and leash laws will be enforced.
Organizers would prefer that ice chests and barbecue equipment be left at home.
Personal fireworks are prohibited at Freedom Fair. Possession of fireworks anywhere in the city of Tacoma, even a sparkler, can result in a $257 fine. Any fireworks will be confiscated and destroyed, said Tacoma Police spokeswoman Loretta Cool. No warnings will be given.
Police fireworks patrols run throughout the city from 8 p.m.-4 a.m. each day through Sunday.
Alcohol is prohibited at Freedom Fair, with the exception of designated beer gardens. Possession of alcohol will result in a $100 fine, Cool said. Bags and other containers are subject to search by law enforcement. Police officers will heavily patrol Freedom Fair, Cool said. Disorderly conduct could result in removal from the event or arrest.
The volunteer-driven organization that puts on Freedom Fair is once again asking for donations to fund the festival.