By CHRISTIAN CARVAJAL for OLY ARTS
Every Fourth of July the city of Tumwater pulls out all the stops. Start with the obvious: The Thunder Valley Fireworks Show is, according to festival organizers, the biggest in Thurston County. It’s certainly impressive — but so are the entertainment and events that precede it. Littles will relish conquering inflatable slides, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and a pirate ship. Older kids and teens can roam freely between a bungee run, inflatable obstacle courses, a field-goal challenge, a “Vertical Rush” slide, a wrecking ball and the intriguingly titled “Hippo Chowdown.” Kids join their adults for miniature golf and roving magic acts and musicians, plus face-painting overseen by the Hands On Children’s Museum. Meanwhile, a DJ plays top-40 music suitable for guests of every age.
What’s a fair without food? The Artesian Family Festival has plenty. Start with burgers and fries from Big Daddy’s and hand-dipped corn dogs from Screamin’ Jac’s and the Corndog Kid. Add New York-style pizza from Wicked Pies; chicken or pork nachos from Bus 49; alligator, frog legs and other southern favorites from C ’n’ A Wings ’n’ Things; Mexican fusion fare from Gringo Maniac; exotic and vegan items from The Jerky Gal; and the savory, eastern flavors of Pattaya Thai or Egg Roll Hut. Wash it down with Pony Espresso, then move on to dessert. There’s kettle corn from Grandad’s, elephant ears from Hungarian Kitchen, Johnny’s Ice Cream, McNashton’s Shave Ice and, to finish on a healthier note, apricots and cherries from Fardell Farms. For those with picky eaters in tow, or lots of dietary restrictions, festival organizers welcome families who pack their own picnics to bring along. (Just remember no alcohol is allowed on site.)
At 6:45 p.m. on the “O Bee Entertainment Stage,” nationally-renowned ventriloquist Vikki Gasko Green will wow the crowd with a funny, family-friendly show. Illusionist Jeff Evans does a full act at 7:45 p.m. At 8:45 p.m., the true showstopper of the evening (fireworks aside) appears overhead as the Kapowsin Air Sports Skydivers arrive. Be sure to have your kids fill out a card for the “Drop Zone Contest” ahead of time, as the skydivers pick the card closest to where they land and a few lucky kiddos receive a fun prize. After the skydivers, at 9:00 p.m. back on the O Bee Stage, Matt Baker will impress the crowd with his juggling. As night falls, the evening ends with a spectacular fireworks show provided by the City of Tumwater and the Tumwater Downtown Association.
“Over the years, Tumwater’s Fourth of July celebration has become an event that literally thousands of local children and families look forward to each year, a truly amazing experience for the whole family to enjoy,” says City of Tumwater marketing specialist Marisa Worden. “We are lucky to live in a community where local businesses work cooperatively with us to provide family-friendly events like this one. We welcome everyone to come celebrate the Fourth of July with us, Tumwater style.”
Happy Fourth, Thurston County!
(Prohibited items: No alcohol, pets or personal fireworks are allowed in the festival.)
Tumwater Artesian Family Festival
Tumwater Valley Golf Course,
4611 Tumwater Valley Drive SE, Tumwater
6 p.m. Wednesday, July 4
Free admission, $10 parking