Set Sail With The Port Of Olympia’s Boatswap & Chowder Challenge

port of olympia boat swap
The Port of Olympia's boat swap will include community and commercial vendors selling all related boating gear.


By Amy Rowley

port of olympia boat swap
Kids enjoy the trout fishing pond at the Port of Olympia’s Boatswap & Chowder Challenge.

After a six year hiatus, Thurston County residents are rejoicing about the return of the Port of Olympia’s Boatswap and Chowder Challenge.

“The Port is excited to bring back a community favorite event.  It’s something the staff have always enjoyed too,” comments Jennie Foglia-Jones who is handling the Port’s event coordination.

“People never stopped calling to ask about when we were bringing the event back,” says Kathleen White, the Port’s Communication and Government Relations Manager.

Scheduled for May 18 from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at Swantown Marina, the community event will have something for everyone according to Foglia-Jones.

Event-goers can enjoy live entertainment on the stage.  Kids can partake in free activities such as face painting or burn off extra energy in the bounce house.  Everyone is invited to fish at the trout pond.  Boating enthusiasts can wander through the boat and gear sale.  Foodies will enjoy the Chowder Challenge.

The logistics for the Chowder Challenge are simple.  $5 buys you a token.  Once inside the roped off area, you are welcome to taste as many chowders as you like.  Fill up on a favorite or take samples of all twelve recipes.  Once you have identified your favorite, drop your token into the voting bucket.

Twelve local restaurants will be vying for your votes.  Try chowder from: Fatso’s Bar and Grill, Firecreek Grill, Fish Tale Brewpub, Hawk’s Prairie Casino, Lucky Eagle Casino, Nisqually Red Wind Casino, Paprika Cafe & Catering, Red Lion Hotel – West Water Restaurant, South Bay Pub & Eatery, The Sidewalk Cafe, Tug Boat Annie’s and Vern’s Foods & Farm.

port of olympia boat swap
Taste chowder from 12 local restaurants on Saturday, May 18.

Tasting for the Chowder Challenge will be from 12:30 – 2:00 pm.  Port officials will then gather the voting buckets and count tokens.  The award ceremony will begin at 2:15 pm.  First through third place people’s choice winners will be awarded as well as a chef’s pick.

Another award will be bestowed by Port staff on the best decorated booth.  “This is a fun way to make the event more festive,” describes Foglia-Jones.

Either before or after your tummy is full on delicious chowder, wander through the public boat swap and gear sale.  “It’s basically a big swap meet for boats. There will be gear and boats on land for sale and boats in the water available for purchase,” explains Foglia-Jones.

The public is welcome to sign up for a space to sell gear, boats, motors, dinghies, and any other boat related items.

White’s group of friends, who enjoy skiing together during the winter, would meet up annually to bicycle to the event.  She’s looking forward to reconnecting with the crew for this year’s event.  “It’s truly a community event.  The Port wants to get people down to have a good time,” she says.

Expect a well-attended event for boating enthusiasts and their families alike.  Take the day and explore Swantown Marina and the East Bay neighborhood.  If it’s sunny, your kids can cool their toes in the East Bay Public Plaza or get some play time inside the Hands On Children’s Museum.  Older kids will enjoy the educational fun at LOTT’s WET Science Center just next door.

You can find the 2013 Boatswap and Chowder Challenge at Swantown Marina located at the East Bay of Budd Inlet at 1022 Marine Drive NE in Olympia.  Free parking is available at lots along Marine Drive.  Hop into a free shuttle to the event.

Port Of Olympia Boatswap and Chowder Challenge

Saturday, May 18

10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Swantown Marina


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