Olympia Harbor Days: Tugs, Trains & Ports on the Waterfront

harbor days


By Lisa Herrick

oly fed sponsorCome celebrate the final days of summer and Olympia’s maritime history during the annual Olympia Harbor Days starting Friday, August 29 and concluding on Sunday, August 31. Harbor Days is a three day festival of entertainment, food, art, and history all highlighted by the vintage, working and retired tugboats that convene on the southernmost point of the Puget Sound.

The tugboats will be moored at Olympia’s Percival Landing and most will be open for tour on Saturday. Then Sunday at noon the tugs will head out for a raucous, horn blasting, water splashing display of the Harbor Days Tugboat Races in the deep channel of Budd Inlet.

harbor days“Every year we offer new features as we continue to grow the festival,” explains Shelly Lively, Harbor Days Executive Director.  “This year we will be highlighting how tugboats, trains and the port have worked together for decades.”

Harbor Days will be honoring Tacoma Rail during its Centennial Celebration at Port Plaza.  Tacoma Rail will exhibit a live engine and caboose with opportunities to tour a real working train. Train lovers of all ages will want to climb aboard.  And for the little ones, Kitsap Live Steamers will build over 100 feet of track for kids to ride a small train.

“I encourage people to start their day at the Port Plaza where there will be lots of kid activities and history of tugs, trains and ports collaborating. Then walk to the center of the festival at Percival Landing for the main stage entertainment, booths, food from around the world and of course the tugboats. Going from Port Plaza to Percival Landing will give everyone the full experience of the event,” advises Lively.

Olympia Harbor Days 2013 (32)Percival Landing will be the hub for entertainment, food and booths. This year, the Chehalis Tribe from Lucky Eagle Casino will prepare salmon in the traditional tribal way using alder wood and hot rocks. Additionally, Lopaka Logs will feature their “Tiny Cabin.”  Modeling after the Tiny House craze, Lopaka Logs custom builds Tiny Cabins hand crafted with all natural wood with functioning kitchen and bathroom.  Harbor Days presents over 250 arts and crafts, commercial and nonprofit booths throughout the weekend.

The main attraction of Harbor Days continues to be the tugboats. Pick to view the model tugboats, tour a tug, watch them depart for the races, or Take the opportunity to meet famous tugboat crewmembers such as Lenny Lekanoff, the tough deckhand from the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch.” As many as fifteen modern and vintage tugs are expected to participate throughout the weekend’s festival.

Olympia Harbor Days 2013 (24)“Harbor Days is a true community event,” shares Lively.  “It brings tourism to town, gives opportunity to 250 businesses and nonprofits to be on display, keeps maritime history alive, and creates opportunity for families to come together for a free event while enabling Olympia Kiwanis to offer a service to the community.”

Olympia Kiwanis hosts Harbor Days through sponsorship from organizations such as Olympia Federal Savings. “We think the world of Oly Fed,” explains Lively. “Everyone can be successful when we have organizations such as Oly Fed and Olympia Kiwanis working together to provide a community festival for families to enjoy at no cost.”

Lively continues to explain that any excess money from Harbor Days gets distributed to Olympia Kiwanis programs such as one of their three food gardens that donates fresh vegetables to Thurston County Food Bank, the fire wood crew that helps heat people’s homes throughout the winter, and scholarships for young students.

For more Harbor Days Maritime Festival and Tugboat Race information click here.  Harbor Days begins on August 29 and continues throughout Labor Day weekend.


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