2016 Events: Thurston / South Pierce County

Roy Pioneer Rodeo

8710 Higgins Greig Road, Roy

June 4-5, Sept. 3-4 | royrodeo.com

The Roy Pioneer Rodeo covers two weekends, June 4-5, as well as Sept. 3-4, and the outdoor rodeo is held in Roy at 8710 Higgins Greig Road.

The rodeo draws participants and thousands of fans alike each year to not only take in the traditional Roy events but also to enjoy a souvenir booth, food booth as well as a beer and wine garden.

Fans will see all types of events from bareback riding and saddle bronc riding to calf roping, steer wrestling, military bull riding, breakaway roping, team roping and barrel racing. Also seen will be the opening ceremonies, clown acts, cow milking and businessman’s wild cow milking.

Children can also partake in a stick horse racing event.

Typically, each rodeo event sees about 10 competitors, with hundreds competing annually from around the Pacific Northwest. Those who compete must also compete in August if they want to win a buckle. Buckle winners are the participants that win the most money at both rodeos in each event.

Sanctioned through the Northwest Professional Rodeo Association, the Roy Pioneer Rodeo is also part of the NPRA season series.

Yelm Prairie Days

Yelm City Park

June 23-25 | yelmchamber.com

As the fastest-growing town in Thurston County, the city of Yelm will likely have thousands of people partake in a community-wide event that spans more than six decades.

It’s called Prairie Days, and if you’re traveling through the Nisqually Valley in late-June headed to Mount Rainier, you may just become part of the city’s biggest annual festivity.

Prairie Days is June 23-25 at Yelm City Park, with a parade — presented by the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce — 7 p.m. opening night. Following the parade, the good times move to Yelm City Park with food, games and entertainment.

Attendees, whether local or from afar, will be privy to family and community-oriented entertainment such as local vocal groups, school choirs and bands. Other attractions include special events for children, and the Magnificent Mutt contest on Saturday.

Residents and visitors can browse among vendors and information booths, or get an adrenaline rush courtesy of the carnival — which offers state-of-the-art rides and concessions. The carnival operates through Sunday, after the rest of Prairie Days concludes.

Fourth of July Celebrations

JBLM 2016 ‘Freedom Fest’

Joint Base Lewis-McChord at Cowan and Memorial Stadiums

July 4 | jblmmwr.com/freedomfest

Members of the general public are invited to attend the 2016 “Freedom Fest” from noon to 10 p.m. Monday, July 4, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord at Cowan and Memorial Stadiums on JBLM Lewis-Main.

Admission to this annual event is free and open to members of the public. Gates open at noon to Freedom Fest attendees — visitors should bring photo ID and vehicles must enter the base via Interstate 5, exit 119.

All-day attractions include a midway with carnival rides, “fair food,” and other concessions, “Kids World” activities, “Classy Chassis” car show, jugglers, stilt-walkers and other roving performers, and live music.

The fireworks display is scheduled to begin at 10 p.m.

Lacey Fireworks Spectacular and Freedom Concert

Lacey Crossroads Shopping Center, 5500 Corporate Center Loop SE

July 3 | laceydays.org

Lacey continues its tradition of kicking off the area’s Independence Day celebrations with the Lacey Fireworks Spectacular and Freedom Concert on Sunday, July 3. The Freedom Concert begins at 6:30 p.m. The Fireworks Spectacular will be in the vicinity of William A. Bush Park, 4400 Chardonnay Drive NE, Lacey, beginning around 10:15 p.m.

Tumwater Fourth of July Parade, Artesian Festival and Fireworks

Tumwater Valley Golf Course Driving Range

July 4 | ci.lacey.wa.us

Another area tradition is the Tumwater Fourth of July Parade, Artesian Festival and Fireworks Display on Sunday, July 3. The parade starts at 11 a.m.

The Artesian Family Festival and Thunder Valley Fireworks Show is held at the Tumwater Valley Golf Course Driving Range. Festival gates open at 6 p.m. Event features music, food vendors, games, and much more. The Thunder Valley Fireworks Show begins at 10:15 p.m. and is accompanied by music on site. Festival entry is free; event parking is $10 per car. No alcohol, pets, personal fireworks or barbecues allowed.

Capital Lakefair

Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater

July 13-17 | lakefair.org

The annual Lakefair parade attracts about 100 entries from around the Northwest.

The parade will feature the military, youth and persons from around the world who call the Northwest home.

The parade begins at 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, July 16, and lasts for two hours. The 2016 Grand Finale Fireworks show starts at 10 p.m. Sunday, July 17, along the shores of Capitol Lake.

The fair also has a big lineup of food vendors that set up business during Lakefair on Water Street

Oregon Trail Days

Downtown Tenino

July 22-24 | teninoacc.org

Tenino Oregon Trail DaysThe city of Tenino’s annual Oregon Trail Days is sure to be a blast — especially with the ever-popular Four Square Mile Music Festival.

This year’s celebration of Tenino’s history runs Friday, July 22 through Sunday, July 24.

There’s something for everyone, from the history exhibits at the Tenino Depot Museum, to the quarry pool, the black powder shoot, to the music festival headlined by Tenino native Adam Craig.

Some of the old-time action people can witness at the Tenino Depot Museum include shake splitting, log cabin notching, making cornmeal, stone carving, making homemade ice cream and, true to Tenino’s own unique history, making wooden money.

More modern activities at the museum include a bounce house, face painting, slides, inflatable balls big enough for a person to enter and float on top of a pool, pony rides and fish ponds.

The black powder shoot is another activity that throws people into the past. The quarry pool will be running full steam for this year’s event. Tenino’s own Adam Craig will headline both Friday and Saturday night. A huge beer garden features local wines and brews.

Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival

Regional Athletic Complex, Lacey

July 30-31 | pnwmushroomfest.com

Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival celebrates all things fungi, but focuses on food and drink. It’s located at “mushroom corner,” the site of Ostrom’s Mushroom Farm across the street from the Regional Athletic Complex. The farm hosts tours of its facility three times a day on the weekend, at a cost of $5.

The family-friendly festival will feature speakers, chefs, cooking demonstrations, farm tour, children activities, entertainment, vendors, Shroom Feast (mushroom tasting area), Grow in the Dark 5K Run, and a Saturday evening mushroom and wine event.

The festival kicks off at 9 p.m. Friday, July 29 with a pre-festival Grow in the Dark 5K Run and Kids Run, and continues 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The cost is $5 per person per day and festival tickets are available from Ralph’s and Bayview Thriftway stores as well as the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau.

The Mushroom and Wine event that will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday at the festival grounds. This event will pair local Washington wine and beer with delicious mushroom hors d’oeuvres, live music, dancing and a Silent Charity Auction.

The 2013 festival attracts more than 8,000 visitors from throughout the Northwest.

There is free parking and shuttle at Washington Land Yacht Harbor, 9101 Steilacoom Road SE Olympia. Shuttle runs from off-site parking to the festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every 15 minutes.

Paddle to Nisqually

Port of Olympia, Nisqually Indian Tribe reservation

July 30 to Aug. 6 | paddletonisqually.com

The Canoe Journey 2016 is Paddle to Nisqually, sponsored and coordinated by the Leschi Heritage Foundation. Organizers are expecting 8,000 to 10,000 people when the inter-tribal Canoe Journey landing takes place starting July 30 at the Port of Olympia.

More than 100 canoes are expected to participate in this year’s Canoe Journey with nations from up and down the West Coast, Canada, Alaska and as far away as New Zealand, Mexico and Hawaii. As canoes travel up and down the coast to converge in Olympia, they will stop at other tribal lands along the way where they ask for permission to come ashore in their native languages, and then welcomed, fed and hosted overnight. There is gift exchange, as well as prayers, drumming, songs and dances.

Eventually, all nations are in the water and arrive nearly at once, and again they must follow the request to come ashore protocol.

Forty acres are being developed to accommodate about 6,000 people who will camp on the Nisqually Indian Tribe reservation just northwest of Yelm during the event.

On July 31, a Medicine Creek Treaty Ceremony will be held followed by Protocol on Aug. 1, which continues until Aug. 6. Protocol is when each family or tribe takes a turn to sing, dance and drum, telling their story and celebrating their culture. Each protocol can last from two to six hours.

Paddle to Seattle in 1989 was part of Washington state’s centennial celebration which revived the Canoe Journey tradition as it is known today.

Thurston County Fair

3054 Carpenter Road, Lacey

Aug. 3-7 | co.thurston.wa.us/fair

The 2015 Thurston County Fair is Aug. 3-7 at the Thurston County fairgrounds in Lacey.

Each year’s fair offers a carnival, vendors, livestock shows, and a concert series featuring a variety of entertainers.

The carnival provides a variety of rides — tame ones for young children, as well as some death-defying attractions for older thrill seekers. Food ranging from corn dogs to hamburgers will keep visitor’s stomachs from grumbling throughout the day.

Animals serve as the heart of the fair, with high school students from Future Farmers of America chapters throughout the county showcasing local livestock.

Young students get a chance to show off their livestock-raising skills as well through 4-H.

The organizations give students a chance to gain a variety of leadership skills and build confidence in themselves.

Tumwater Artesian Brewfest

Tumwater Valley Golf Course

Aug. 20 | tumwaterartesianbrewfest.com

Taste beers from more than 40 Pacific Northwest breweries including Tumwater’s original Olympia beer from 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20 at Tumwater Valley Golf Course.

The event includes tastings from area wineries and a distillery. People can also compete in games such as beer stein holding, super sized beer pong, cornhole, ride the mechanical shark and volleyball.

The festival was created to honor the brewing history in Tumwater, former home to the Olympia Brewing Company.

The festival will feature many Northwest breweries, wineries and cider. Along with beer, wine and cider there will be plenty of food to choose from.

Entertainment will include a DJ from 1-8 p.m. Festival attendees must be 21 years or older. The cost to attend is $20 in advance (noon Friday) and $25 the day of. Designated drivers are $10 in advance, $15 at the gate, and members of the military receive a $5 discount.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord Air Show and Warrior Expo

McChord Field

Aug. 27-28 | airshows.aero

The 2016 Joint Base Lewis-McChord Air Show and Warrior Expo is a go for the weekend of Aug. 27-28 at McChord Field. The all-day event will feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as the marquee act, along with the U.S. Army’s “Golden Knights.”

“After a four-year hiatus, we’re extremely pleased to bring this magnificent event back to the South Sound,” said Col. Daniel S. Morgan, Joint Base Lewis-McChord Garrison Commander, in a press release. “We’re thrilled to have the Thunderbirds and the Golden Knights here again, just as they were in 2012.”

The 2016 JBLM Air Show and Warrior Expo is more than an air show. In addition to the Thunderbirds and Golden Knights, hundreds of JBLM soldiers and airmen will be on hand with airframes and vehicles from JBLM as part of dozens of ground displays. This will showcase the equipment airmen and soldiers use at the base every day, and it’s a way to thank the people around the Puget Sound area for their support of servicemembers and military families. In most cases, people will be able to go inside the planes, helicopters and vehicles on display, and speak directly with the crews who operate them.

The 2016 JBLM Air Show and Warrior Expo is free and open to the general public.

Rainier Round-Up and Bluegrass Days

Wilkowski Park, Rainier

Aug. 26-28 | rainierhistoricalsociety.org

Held Aug. 26-28 at Wilkowski Park, Bluegrass music, arts, crafts, square dancing, a parade, and hometown food are several perks Round-Up Days has to offer in celebration of the quaint city. One of the many positive things about this multi-day event is that all proceeds go to the Rainier Lions Club to benefit the community.

The Bluegrass show is 3-7 p.m. Friday, and 2-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. Saturday at Wilkowski Park, near the intersection of Rochester Street East and Idaho Avenue North. A dinner for the Bluegrass participants is 6 p.m. Friday at the Rainier Chapel, with a suggested $5 donation. At 9:30 a.m. on the final day is a Sunday morning gospel singing.

The parade starts 11 a.m. Saturday along Binghampton Street, starting at Idaho Street and ending at Minnesota Street. Wiener dog races at city hall follow the parade.

Harbor Days Maritime Festival and Tug Boat Races

Percival Landing, Olympia

Sept. 2-4 | harbordays.com

For four decades, Olympia has celebrated its long maritime heritage — and the big-shouldered working boats that made it happen — with the Harbor Days Maritime Festival and Tug Boat Races. 

The 43rd annual festival fills Labor Day weekend with a fascinating mix of seafaring, food and fun. As many as 15 vintage and modern tugs are expected to participate, and most will be open for tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Percival Landing. Be on hand Sunday at noon to watch the procession, as the tugs get underway for the big race up at Budd Inlet.

All weekend long, enjoy live entertainment and over 250 arts and crafts, commercial and nonprofits booths. Taste cuisine in the food court from around the world and our own backyard.

About Douglas Branson

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