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Capital Lakefair returns

Olympia's sprawling lakeside party

Photo courtesy Capital Lakefair

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(Editors note: The Car Show and Grand Parade were listed incorrectly in the original story. Corrections to both the story and the calendar of events have been made. We apologize for any inconvenience.)

It began with a budget of $500. In 1957, a group of downtown businessmen pooled their resources to draw visitors' attention to Olympia's then-7-year-old artificial lake. In those days, boating and swimming were allowed on the water, and in Capital Lakefair's first few years, the attractions around the lake were such quintessentially '50s pastimes as baton twirling and water polo. There was even a bout of log-rolling. This is, after all, the Pacific Northwest.

That was 60 years ago. Now Capital Lakefair's budget is more like $300,000, and the five-day event draws about 200,000 attendees. What was once a threadbare procession with a "Lady of the Lake" and a towed boat evolved into the present-day Lakefair Grand Parade, a spectacle thronged by up to 12,000 people.

Some Olympian snobs dismiss Capital Lakefair as (in the words of a downtown aphorism) "the party Olympia throws for Shelton," but all the same, year after year, those same folks show up in droves for their juicy, onion-blanketed Demo Burgers with cheese. Once they arrive and eat their fill, there's no shortage of entertainment to jostle them into a stupor of dopey nausea. The fun begins Wednesday, dubbed "Public Employee Appreciation Day" by fair organizers. Look for books of reduced-price food tickets for state workers at WSECU branches and on After live entertainment from Debbi's Dance, Mike Burdoff and acoustic guitarist Dan Walker, then comes 94.5 ROXY-FM's High School Battle of the Bands at 6:30 p.m. Teen competitors vie for gift cards and a grand prize of $500.

Thursday's live entertainers include singer-songwriter Lisa Ramsauer and a country-and-oldies ensemble, Primetime Band. The biggest draw, though, is probably the Lakefair Court, led this year by queen Margaret Doyle of Capital High School. Doyle is an impending English major and part-time baker with dreams of law school. She's joined by Ava Brackenbury of Olympia High School, Elizabeth Hirotaka of Black Hills High School, Malinda Lyon of Avanti and Jayla Simmons of North Thurston High.

Friday woos guests ages 50 or older with giveaways and nostalgic entertainment. A recurring favorite, Danny Vernon aka "The Illusion of Elvis," arrives Friday - followed by a quintet of rock and/or punk bands. (Olympia seniors are down.) The Lakefair Car Show begins at 5:30 p.m. Out of hundreds of diverse makes and models, over 20 entries will receive coveted awards.

Kids' Day activities fill Sylvester Park from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, followed by the Lakefair Grand Parade at 5 p.m. Local favorite Vicci Martinez brings her nationally famous singer-songwriter chops to the stage at 9:30 p.m.

Sunday's guests will be entertained beginning at noon, when the U.S. Martial Arts Center stages a lively demonstration. Then come students from the Rhythm Fire School of Music and acoustic duo Dan & Shannon Music, followed by Seattle rock band The Adarna at 6 p.m. and Olympia's own '70s supergroup, Porky and the Beans, at 8 p.m. But they're only the opening acts for Capital Lakefair's grand finale: a fireworks display that launches from Capital Lake's southeastern shore to bedazzle the night sky over the Funtastic Carnival midway. May we suggest enjoying it with a heapin' serving of strawberry shortcake from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 318 kiosk?

CAPITAL LAKEFAIR, noon to 11 p.m., Wednesday, July 12; 1-10 p.m., Thursday, July 13; 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday, July 14; 3-10:30 p.m., Saturday, July 15; noon to 10:30 p.m., Sunday, July 16, Heritage Park, Fifth Ave. at Water St., Olympia, free admission, booth, ride and vendor prices vary, 360.943.7344

Capital Lakefair Mainstage Entertainment

Wednesday, July 12, Public Employee Appreciation Day (Heritage Park, noon to 11 p.m.)
Noon-1:15 p.m.: Debbi's Dance
1-3 p.m.: Raindance open mic with Mike Burdoff
3:30-4:30 p.m.: Dan Walker, acoustic guitar
5-6 p.m.: Zumba
5:30-8:30 p.m.: Lakefair Car Show
6:30-10:30 p.m.: ROXY-FM High School Battle of the Bands

Thursday, July 13
1-3 p.m.: Raindance open mic with Mike Burdoff
3:30-4:30 p.m.: Acoustic act
5:30-6:30 p.m.: Lisa Ramsauer, singer-songwriter
7-8 p.m.: Lakefair Court speeches
8:30-10 p.m.: Primetime Band, country and oldies

Friday, July 14, 50+ in the Park (Heritage Park, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)
9-10:45 a.m.: Music sponsored by Motor Car
11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.: Entertainment Explosion, senior variety
1-2:15 p.m.: Danny Vernon, "The Illusion of Elvis"
3:30-4:30 p.m.: Rebels Against Wicked
5-6 p.m.: Dark Palms, post-punk
6:30-7:30 p.m.: Guilty Smoke, grunge rock
8-9 p.m.: HellBelly, hard rock
9:30-10:30 p.m.: The STUNTMENT, punk

Friday, July 14, Car Show (Marathon Park, 5:30-9:30 p.m.)

Saturday, July 15, Lakefair Run (Heritage Park, 8 a.m. to noon)

Saturday, July 15, Kids' Day (Sylvester Park, noon-4 p.m.)
3-4 p.m.: Motor Car, blues rock
5-7 p.m.: Lakefair Grand Parade
7-7:30 p.m.: Baby and the Nobodies, punk
8-9 p.m.: Paul Hernandez, blues rock
9:30-10:30 p.m.: Vicci Martinez, singer-songwriter

Sunday, July 16
Noon-1 p.m.: U.S. Martial Arts Center demonstration
1-2 p.m.: Jiu-jitsu demonstration
2-3:30 p.m.: Rhythm Fire School of Music students
4-5 p.m.: Dan & Shannon Music, acoustic duo
6-7:30 p.m.: The Adarna, rock
8-10 p.m.: Porky and the Beans, rock
10 p.m.: Grand Finale Fireworks

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