Festivals/Annual Events

Visitors to Ballard on May 17, and there were many of them, could be forgiven for thinking they had been transported to another time and place. Men and women walked Market Street in traditional Scandinavian outfits, waltzes played on an accordion drifted from Bergen Place and Norwegian flags waved from every flag-able surface.

Ballard's annual Syttende Mai celebration took over the neighborhood, starting with crafts and lunch at the Nordic Heritage Museum and culminating in the parade, with its thousands of participants and onlookers.

Ingrid Chamales, who recently moved to Gig Harbor from South Dakota, was checking out the Nordic Heritage Museum with her husband for the first time on May 17.

Her parents are from Norway, and she said she decided to make the trip from Gig Harbor for the festivities because she read about it in a Sons of Norway magazine.

Chamales' husband was disappointed by the lack of lutefisk but said he would be back for the annual lutefisk-eating contest at the Ballard Seafood Fest.

Following are the winners from the 2010 Syttende Mai Parade. Winners may pick up their trophies at Union Bank (formerly Frontier Bank), located at 5602 15th Ave. N.W.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

Syttende Mai 2010 in Ballard brought out the Norwegian, and smiles, in everyone. CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS.

“Delibertus Quirkus” – the freedom to be peculiar – is the unofficial motto of Fremont, and at no other time does the sentiment play out more prominently than at the annual Fremont Fair, set to take place the weekend of June 19 and 20.

Produced by the Fremont Chamber of Commerce and held annually near the calendar Summer Solstice, the weekend festival draws families, freewheelers, young, old and everyone in between, all coming together to celebrate summer and Fremont and its unconventional culture.

As is tradition, the event will coincide with the much-loved Solstice Parade, organized by the Fremont Arts Council. The parade – famous for its wild and whimsical floats and spectacles – kicks off at noon on June 19 starting at North 36th Street and Leary Way and flowing through the heart of Fremont to end at Gasworks Park.

Highlights for this year’s Fremont Fair activities include:

  • More than 300 shopping booths featuring colorful world imports and novel handmade creations, plus boutique shopping throughout the streets.
Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

The Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade, seen here in 2009, return for their 39th year June 19 and June 20.

Overcast skies and a slight drizzle May 1 didn't keep Ballardites from flocking to the first-ever Ballard Urban Picnic, or BURP, where lines for some of the premiere street food vendors in the city were occasionally 40 people deep.

The Ballard Chamber of Commerce created BURP, which featured mobile food vendors, a beer garden, live music, inflatable bouncers, community booths and more, as a way to bring more community activity to Ballard Commons Park.

"We all thought we had this great park and it doesn't get as much use as it could," said Beth Miller, Ballard Chamber of Commerce executive director.

Miller said she thought this would be a small event that would be easier to organize than the multiple-day Seafood Fest.

While it was still easier than Seafood Fest, it was not easy, she said. They started out with an idea to have food vendors in the park for a day, then decided they needed entertainment, then something for children and all of a sudden there was a lot of organizing to do, she said.

Miller said the turnout at the event was great, especially because weather on May 1 is always a toss up.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

Hungry Ballardites line up at one of two Dante's Inferno Dog carts at the first-ever Ballard Urban Picnic May 1. CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS.

The Ballard Chamber of Commerce is offering the Ballard Urban Picnic, or BURP, for the consideration of the neighborhood's collective stomaches.

BURP, which runs from noon to 9 p.m. on May 1, will cram Ballard Commons Park with a lineup of mobile food vendors, a beer garden with proceeds going to the Ballard Food Bank, live music, bouncy toys, skateboard demonstrations, community booths and an outdoor showing of Pixar's "Ratatouille."

Food vendors include Dante's Inferno Dogs, Anita's Crepes, Veraci Pizza, Skillet, Here & There and Parfait Ice Cream. The beer garden is being furnished by Maritime Pacific Brewery.

The Ballard Chamber of Commerce is looking for volunteers for BURP. Click here to sign up.

Photo credit: 
Courtesy of Ballard Chamber of Commerce

The Greenwood-Phinney Chamber of Commerce is celebrating the community’s various talents this summer as it honors The Coats, a local a cappella group with a national reputation, as the grand marshals of the 60th annual Greenwood Seafair Parade July 28.

The theme for this year is Greenwood’s Got Talent, Celebrating 60 Super Summers.

“I think with The Coats leading off our parade, we can focus on some of the great talent in our community and let them show their stuff in the parade,” parade chair Ann Woodward said in a press release. “Getting out there and performing, whether it is singing, dancing, fitness training, playing an instrument, gardening or whatever, is an excellent ways to exercise your mind and body, have fun and stay healthy.”

The Coats started their career on the street corners of Seattle, which evolved into a full-time international performance career. They have won national vocal competitions.

The Greenwood Seafair Parade takes place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on July 28.

Photo credit: 
Allison Espiritu

A clown marches in last year's Greenwood Seafair Parade. The parade's them this year is Greenwood's Got Talent.

On Easter morning at Ballard Corners Park, half the assembled adults hid eggs while the other half restrained the eager egg hunters lined up along the sidewalk awaiting the start of the neighborhood-organized egg hunt.

The children were released in an egg-gathering frenzy, leaving the adults to chase after them with cameras and tease each other about which parents were offering too much help in their children's pursuit of eggs.

Six-year-old Olivia Jett, for one, said she prefers her Easter egg hunts without adult help.

"I'm good at looking," she said. "I'm a really good hunter."

Jalair Box, mother of six-year-old Jaya, said it is nice to have an event where all the neighborhood children who don't know each other can get together.

Ballard Big Picture is a column of scenes from around the neighborhood. If you would like to submit a photo for use on this site and in the Ballard News-Tribune, please send it to Michael Harthorne at michaelh@robinsonnews.com. Be sure to include your name and information about your photo.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

Jalair Box helps daughter Jaya, 6, reach her quarry during the April 4 Easter egg hunt at Ballard Corners Park. CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS.

Community groups and city again partner on summer events

Neighborhoods groups and the city of Seattle will team up again this year to create fun for residents on local streets and support nearby businesses through the Celebrate Seattle Summer Streets program. Starting in May and running through August, Celebrate Seattle Summer Streets events will be held in Ballard, Alki, Greenwood / Phinney Ridge and the Rainier Valley.

In its third year, Summer Streets events open up roads to pedestrians and bicyclists, offering people a way to have fun, celebrate the spirit and personality of their neighborhood, and support local businesses. Each of the four events is organized in partnership with a local group and is augmented, where appropriate, by other city activities such as Bicycle Sundays on Lake Washington Blvd (occurring almost every Sunday throughout the summer.)


Visitors to the 2010 Northwest Flower and Garden Show, which opened Feb. 3, may be shocked by one of the gardens they see situated amongst the more prim, pretty and perfect gardens at the show.

"Viridis Veni Vidi Vici," created by Ballard High School agriculture students, is a depiction of nature reclaiming an abandoned school – a post-apocalyptic garden.

"People will either love it or hate it," said Emerald McAmis, one of the students behind the project.

The garden features graffitied walls, mangled books and broken desks being taken over by plants grown in the Ballard High School greenhouse and other collected plants, such as weeds and blackberry bushes.

"It's not going to be like anything else at the flower show," said India Carlson, who teaches horticulture and botany at Ballard High School and supervised the project.

The garden is part of the Northwest Flower and Garden Show's Funky Junk program, which allows high school students and nonprofit organizations to create garden displays using recycled and found objects.

Funky Junk was started a few years ago, but this is the first year Ballard High School students have participated.

Photo credit: 
Courtesy of India Carlson

Ballard High School teacher India Carlson (back left) and a few of her students pose with their entry – a post-apocalyptic garden – for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. CLICK IMAGE FOR A VIEW OF THE GARDEN.

With the help of Port Townsend artist Thaddeus Jurczynski and the Artist in Residence program, Loyal Heights Elementary School students will soon be in control of an army of hellhounds, serpents, squirrels, ice giants and other figures from Norse mythology.

For this year's program, third, fourth and fifth-grade classes are working with Jurczynski to create giant puppets to be part of the annual Syttende Mai parade May 17 in Ballard. First and second-graders are creating troll masks for the parade.

To create the puppets, many of which are large enough to fit at least one student inside them, reeds and bamboo are formed into a skeleton and covered with paper mache.

After research at the Nordic Heritage Museum, students drew two-dimensional representations of their creatures and used math and science to turn them into three-dimensional models, said Lauren Molloy-Johnson, co-chair of the Artist in Residence program.

Debi Mandell, a fifth-grade teacher at Loyal Heights, said the puppet project is a way for students to put the geometry skills they are learning to use, and because it is a hands-on activity, the students remain more focused than usual.

Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

Artist Thaddeus Jurczynski shows off the claw for a giant puppet made by an earlier class to Loyal Heights students from Room 14 as part of the school's Artist in Residence program.

Three Tree Point annual event

The Three Tree Point Polar Bear Plunge brought in a new decade of brave but crazy souls who chose to swim in Puget Sound on January 1st.

They were competing for the right to display the drift wood trophy, complete with polar bear commemorating the event.
As always the event featured young and old and a mix of veterans and rookies eager to prove their immunity to cold.

Led by Andy Klietsch and the so called "King of Three Tree Point" Chris Cancro, the group of about 35 people prepared for the frigid experience on the shore and then with some brief pre-plunge instructions and a countdown, raced into the water, many choosing to splash around for some time before emerging, even colder than before.

Shawn McEvoy the Mayor of Normandy Park was a participant and called it "Invigorating!"

This years winner of the event was Carol O'Kennedy who let her dog ride on a small surfboard amid the waves. O'Kennedy stayed out longer than everyone else and yet was very humble upon getting the trophy saying, "I don't know, it's not fair, I go out there, somebody else deserves it."


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See video
Photo credit: 
Keith Daigle

The Three Tree Point Polar Bear Plunge took place on New Years Day with over 35 people plunging into Puget Sound. Chris Cancro and Carol O'Kennedy spent the most time in the water. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT.

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