10 Great Washington Festivals to Go to This Summer
To get your summer off to a good start, we’re going to actually start this spring with the Anacortes Spring Wine Festival. This annual event, held on Fidalgo Island, is everything a classic wine event should be. Taste wines from 30 Pacific Northwest wineries, sample gourmet food samples from local restaurants, and enjoy various sweets and savories from area shops. Afterward, you can then go out and enjoy all that the local area has to offer including live music, art, shopping, and a stroll through the Skagit Valley tulip fields. The event is Saturday, April 7th at the Port Warehouse Event Center, 100 Commercial Avenue in Anacortes.
Redmond Derby Days, Redmond, WA
Derby Days is Redmond, Washington’s signature summer event. The festival started in 1940 as a bike derby and parade to raise money. But today it’s everything a summer festival should be. It includes the aforementioned parades (a grand parade as well as a kids’ bike parade), the Criterium, billed as the nation’s longest bike race, a Diaper Derby where toddlers crawl 20 feet to the finish line, a 5k run, pancake breakfast, as well as carnival rides, game booths, food vendors and music. There is also the annual Redmond Arts Festival, a three-day juried art fair that showcases some of the area’s finest artists. Don’t forget to sign up to play a game of Human Foosball. You’ll want to wrap it all up with a drink at the beer and wine garden while enjoying the beautiful fireworks display at the end of the festival. This year’s event is July 13th & 14th.
Scottish Highland Games, Spokane Valley, WA
Do you like seeing guys in skirts throwing heavy objects? Then the Scottish Highlands Festival is for you. Located in Spokane Valley, WA, the event is held in early August and packs in a full day of events. These include Scottish Style Tug of War and Heavy Athletics (tossing the caber, stone put, hammer throws, and weight throws.) There are also pipe band exhibitions, highland dancing, haggis tasting (if you don’t know what haggis is, you might want to steer clear), a Shortbread Contest and a Highland Cattle Exhibit (considered among the best beef in the world.) There’s also Celtic bands and Scottish dancing throughout the day.
Omak Stampede, Omak, WA
If you’ve been itching to wear that cowboy hat that you bought last year, we’ve got the event for you. The Omak Stampede is an annual weekend event held in Omak, WA, during the second week of August. In 1933, a couple of stockmen brought a rodeo to town and over the years it evolved into the famous festival it is today. The stampede culminates in the World-Famous Suicide Race, an event where horses and riders race 225 feet down a sandy bluff, cross a river, and race 500 yards to the finish. The stampede also features daily rodeo activities, a grand parade, carnival rides, Indian encampment and pow-wow, Native American art show, dancing and more.
Kla Ha Ya Days, Snohomish, WA
The native word Kla Ha Ya means “welcome” and the folks of Snohomish, Washington pull out all the stops to ensure you feel that way by packing in what seems like an endless list of events and attractions. In addition to the standard fare that you get at most summer festivals (carnival rides, parades, beer garden, music), there are other fun events including a “Frog-a-Pult” which lets kids catapult toy frogs into a pond. Then there is the Pole Vault Competition, which is new this year. And what old-time fair would be complete without both a pie-eating contest as well as an ice cream-eating contest. Kla Ha Ya Days runs from July 18-22, 2018 and is celebrating its 104th anniversary.
Brass Screw Confederacy, Port Townsend, Washington
Are you familiar with steampunk? Steampunk started as a literary genre but has grown to include a sub-culture and an aesthetic spanning a broad range of society. Drawing from a Victorian foundation, it mingles history and elements of science fiction or fantasy. The annual Brass Screw Confederacy celebrates this unique culture with a three-day event featuring some of the craziest events to be found anywhere. These include something called the Bazaar of the Bizarre where steampunk-styled vendors sell their wares, Bodger’s Grand Exhibition, where steampunk-makers can show off their inventions, Brass Screw Chautauqua (you better look up Chautauqua to fully understand what that is), Tactical Croquet, billed as the “oddest game of croquet on record”, Nerf Wars, including a “Duelatorium” where two folks can settle disagreements on the Nerf battlefield, and Tea Dueling, whereby pairs of contestants vie to see who can eat a tea-dipped biscuit more cleanly. There is also music from national steampunk bands as well as art exhibits. Definitely worth a visit this summer.
Fremont Solstice Fair, Seattle, WA
The Fremont Solstice Fair is another place to get your freak on. As one of the biggest annual festivals in Seattle (over 100,000 people attend each year), the June weekend event celebrates the free-spirited Seattle culture they term “Delibertas Quirkas” (Freedom to be Peculiar.) The event has the components of a traditional fair – artist booths, craft and food vendors, beverage garden, and a parade. But it’s not your father’s parade. The Fremont Solstice Parade is a sight to behold. It features more than 60 community- based ensembles with all manner of wild sights including stilt walkers, painted body artists, giant puppets, dancers, and other examples of human expression. The youngsters in your group may be asking you questions about what they saw afterward, but it’s definitely worth the watch. The Fair has been going on since 1972 and still keeps that hippy vibe. This year’s event is June 16th & 17th.
Kent Cornucopia Days, Kent, WA
Kent Cornucopia Days is the city’s longest-running event and is held each year in the middle of July. The 46th annual festival is three days long this year and features a grand parade, soccer tournament, a Miss Cornucopia pageant, live music, and street fair with 600 vendors. Their signature event is the Dragon Boat Races, where dozens of teams come from around the Puget Sound area to race on Lake Meridian for medals and bragging rights.
Washington OysterFest, Shelton, WA
Ever shucked an oyster? If you have, then you can appreciate a whole festival dedicated to the wonderful mollusk. As Washington state’s official seafood festival, Washington Oysterfest, held in early October, holds the annual West Coast Oyster Shucking Championships. Even if you’re not in the competition, you can get your hands on plenty of oysters not to mention an enormous selection of other seafood choices. The fest offers a number of events throughout its two-day run, including live music on four different stages, sampling of great number of wines at the Washington Wine Hall and tasting some of the country’s best beer at the Microbrew Garden. There is also a Kids Day featuring a wide variety of educational and interesting activities.
Marysville Strawberry Festival, Marysville, WA
As one of the oldest continuing festivals in Washington, the Marysville Strawberry Festival has a tradition that has stood the test of time. Since 1932 families have been gorging themselves on every strawberry concoction known to man. When they’re not eating, visitors can enjoy live entertainment, a talent show, the annual Saturday Grand Parade, classic car show, and a 5k or 1-mile Berry Run. Of course, there are carnival rides, the Strawberry Festival Market with a wide variety of arts and crafts vendors, food booths, children’s activities, and more. There’s even a Shortcake Eating Contest! This year’s event will be held June 9th-17th.
About the Author: Derek Hines
Internet Marketing Specialist
Derek is originally from the great state of Wisconsin (go Badgers), but is slowly becoming a Pacific Northwesterner. As part of the Internet Marketing team, he writes extensively on storage, moving and life for West Coast Self-Storage, based in Everett, Washington.