Put the ultimate bow on your New Year with the annual Governor’s Inaugural Ball, held on the gorgeous downtown Capitol Campus, Wednesday, January 11. The upscale event is open to anyone interested in a glamorous night on the town. The festive event happens only once every four years and is sure to be the fanciest party in Thurston County.

governor's ball
Even in 1961, the Governor’s Inaugural Ball was the place for fancy dress and good times. Photo courtesy: Washington State Historical Society.

For more than 100 years, the Governor’s Ball was held across Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater as a non-partisan way to welcome newly elected and incumbent officials to town. “The ball is put on by a group of volunteers from the Thurston County area, and has always been so. Traditionally this has been a way that locals welcomed the incoming government to our capitol city,” says organizer Lisa Cosmillo, owner of Firefly Yoga.

The first such gathering occurred before Washington was even granted statehood. Historical reports show that well before our 1889 admittance to the Union, “Territorial Governor, Isaac Stevens, was the first to be welcomed by a reception and a dinner to honor his arrival in Olympia in 1853. The event was held at the Gallagher Hotel in Olympia.”

Cosmillo agrees that in its current form, “This event has been going on since 1901 so I believe it will continue to thrive into the future.”

Held in the grandly marbled Legislative Building, doors open at 7:00 p.m. on January 11 with the program beginning at 8:00 p.m. Formal dress is encouraged and Military Mess Dress is preferred.

governor's ball
Held on January 11, 2017, the Ball offers amazing local food, drink, wines, and dancing – 1973 hairstyles optional. Photo courtesy: Washington State Archives.

In keeping with the elegant tone, at 8:00 p.m. events kick off with the posting of colors by law enforcement honor guard. This is followed by the national anthem, invocation, presentation of guests and flowers, and remarks by Governor Inslee. Concluding with a toast by the Governor and Mrs. Inslee, the honor guard and colors will be retired and musical entertainment resumes.

This year the national anthem will be performed by Vicci Martinez, a rising-star former contestant on The Voice and Tacoma native. From 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 – 11:30 p.m., entertainers Broken Trail, the Johnny Lewis All Star Dance Band, the Dukes of Swing, Joyas Mestizas, and Terry Lauber and Friends will wow guests with music and dance. Whether your tastes range from country to swing, world music to regional dance, they’re sure to whet your appetite and get you moving.

Not to be outdone, the Governor’s Ball includes regional food and drink specialties. “All food is prepared by culinary institutes around the state by 325 volunteer chefs and apprentices. Local winery, Stottle, will be featuring their wines at the event this year,” says Cosmillo.

Tasting menus include a Mediterranean lamb boulette from Bates Technical College, Northwest forest mushroom and sweet onion tarts from Cascadia Tech Academy, sweet onion and gorgonzola in dark chocolate from Carters Chocolates, a mango white chocolate tart from Chef Tamas Ronyai, and elk carpaccio or maple smoked duck courtesy of the Clearwater Casino.

governor's ball
Dust off your party dress and dancing shoes like former Governor Gregoire and you can’t go wrong at the annual Ball. Photo courtesy: Washington Governor’s Inaugural Ball.

Columbia Hospitality’s Bell Harbor Conference Center will offer smoked Washington king salmon belly, the Lake Washington Institute of Technology Baking Arts program is providing an assortment of sweet treats, and the Northwest Career and Technical Academy are hand-crafting peach, pancetta, and sweet onion turnovers.

Need more seafood? The Olympia College of Culinary Arts, Puget Sound Skills Center, and Renton Technical College, and Taylor Shellfish feature salmon, oysters, crab, shrimp, scallops, octopus, mussels, and trout…with a little bacon to tempt your palate. Top it all off with Stottle’s Washington wines and Trops Chocolate.

Tickets to the Governor’s Ball are $100 and can be purchased online or by calling 360-347-1643. All residents are welcome to attend, regardless of political party. Monies raised simply pay for festivities in four years. Taxpayer dollars are never used for, or by, Governor’s Ball volunteer organizers.

fall colors olympia
Anyone is welcome to celebrate the Governor’s Inaugural Ball, held in style on the Capitol Campus.

Parking is available at one of three locations, all serviced by Intercity Transit’s DASH shuttle bus every 12-15 minutes. Look for space at the Olympia Farmers Market, 724 Market Place, the lot at Jefferson and Maple Park, or on street as available.

Ring in the next four years of Governor Inslee’s service by spending time with family, friends, community, civic leaders, and the best our beautiful region has to offer.

Direct questions about the Washington Governor’s Inaugural Ball to wastategovball@gmail.com or 206-457-2834.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email