Image Credit: Shanna Paxton Photography for Olympia Harbor Days
After a long pandemic hiatus, Olympia Harbor Days, Olympia’s waterfront festival is back, hosted by South South Maritime Heritage Association. The event will celebrate its 50th anniversary next summer.
The iconic event features tugboats and other vessels at the docks, tugboat races, arts-and-crafts vendors, live music, food booths, harbor tours, and much more. At the sand carving contest, look for the Capital Heating, Cooling & Plumbing logo!
Other activities include Heritage Bank’s LEGO Harbor Build, plein air painting, a community art project, face painting, a beer garden, and a book giveaway by the South Sound Reading Foundation.
Harbor Days will also highlight cultural sharings from tribal sponsors: Squaxin Island Tribe, Nisqually Indian Tribe, and Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel (owned and operated by the Chehalis Tribe). Cultural sharings including dance, drumming, carving, weaving, and storytelling offered by Squaxin Island Tribe.
There are also some new attractions this year. The Thurston Climate Action Team will host an electric vehicle car show along Columbia Street on Saturday, educating the public on climate change and what it means for our water. A local owner with a fully electric sailboat will bring it to show. And the Puget Sound Estuarium will, for the first time ever, sponsor a touch tank for kids to interact with marine life on Sunday.
The event historically draws up to 60,000 visitors a year.
Carol Riley, who organizes the event, says the community is supportive and ready for a return. “We’re constantly hearing from community members,” she says. “The golden nugget is knowing it’s so loved and so supported in this community.”
The Washington Department of Commerce is helping the event recover from the pandemic with a grant to help with the return of live events in Washington State. Riley notes that receiving this grant speaks to the importance of Harbor Days to this community.
We’ve been sponsoring this event for several years and are thrilled to see it coming back! Dean Schmidtke, our general manager, says we support this event “because it’s a cool, unique Olympia event that highlights the features of life here on the waterfront, our maritime heritage, and water-based commerce and recreation. It’s a great thing to celebrate!”
To be honest, it’s also because our owners are big boat fans and have fond memories of the South Sound’s iconic tugboats. Dean remembers the vessel Sand Man coming right up to the shore at their house when he was a kid in the early ‘80s. He loved that boat so much he dreamed about it.
You can see Sand Man and many other tugboats at Harbor Days over Labor Day Weekend, September 2-4 along the waterfront in downtown Olympia and at other sites in the area.
See their website for more information and be sure to get out there, enjoy this colorful event, and have a great time!