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Get on those stretchy pants and walk shoes, it’s festival season

Get in the competitive spirit during the South Sound BBQ Festival’s chicken wing-eating contest. Photo courtesy of South Sound BBQ Festival Facebook

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Summer, summer, summer time has finally arrived! Festival season is in full effect luring the masses to local parks and sometimes the streets to stroll, shop and (my personal favorite) eat! 

While some festivals add foodie fun to elevate the festival experience, others embrace our love of all things culinary fully, and base festivities on the food. Which is brilliant really, because if there's one universal that brings people together it's food, drink and community. Here's a few must stops on this weekends itinerary: 

The South Sound BBQ Festival invites lovers of smoked, grilled and saucy slathered meats to Lacey's Huntamer Park from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. This free to attend festival includes a plethora of festive activities including live music, a rock climbing wall, hands-on kids fun and adults-only wine and beer gardens. The real lure though lies in the barbecue showdown hosted by the Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association. You can sample the goods up for the grand prize for a nominal fee and decide for yourself, but ultimately a panel of judges will choose who reigns supreme. Local food and retail vendors will also fill the park and if you're feeling compelled to partake in the competitive spirit there will be a chicken wing-eating contest. Don't wear white, bring the wet-naps and dive in. 618 Woodland Square Loop SE, Lacey

Summer isn't just festival season but also time to peruse others possessions and make them "new to you" by hitting up garage sales. It's also grilling season, so it's safe to say the 3rd Annual Garage Sale and Free Vegan BBQ Fundraiser is on to something good here. Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the People's Community Center, folks can spy furniture, toys, books, clothes, gadgets, decorations, electronics, and more with 100 percent of proceeds benefitting Cupid's Landing. Being a fundraiser for a farm animal sanctuary in the making, it only makes sense that the grub be nourishing, plant-based bites. From noon until 5 p.m., there will be burgers and dogs hot off the grill for free, courtesy of Field Roast, Tofurky, Follow Your Heart, Terra Organics, Franz Bakery, and Zevia. Bonus, the group will be further promoting their furry family-friendly nutrition by giving out non-perishable, plant-based food items for free. 1602 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma

While Tacoma's favorite festival, Art on the Ave, doesn't immediately conjure images of food, it ought to. I know there are loads of live music stages being presented simultaneously between State and Alder Streets down "the Ave." Plus, add the makers and crafters slinging their wares or often creating right before your eyes throughout the day. But naturally, the real draw for me is their annual Grub Crawl. While being enamored with the creative culture there will be a Sweet Treats and Savory Bites showdown happening for lovers of all things culinary. 

Three hometown judges: Aura Mae the Kitchen Beautician, Pierce County Sheriff Spokesman Ed Troyer and Interim Tacoma Council Member Justin Camarata will be visiting each participating restaurant and judging the entries. 

The savory sides $6 bites include Asado's Burger Dip Empanada, Pork Sliders from Jazzbones, a Spicy Grilled Beef Skewer from La Ca Bar, Corned Beef Tacos from O'Malleys and a Jalapeño Popper Burger from Spanky's Burger and Brew. Other grub crawl locales include Pizza Press, Engine House No. 9, Crown Bar, Fish Fish Fish and Gateway to India. 

To indulge your sweet tooth competitors include Legendary Donuts presenting their Boozy Balls (donuts and Heritage Distilling Company BSB bourbon? Talk about dangerous), or for the 21 and older crowd there is an Irish Apple Cake with Bailey's Irish Cream Custard presented by O'Malleys. Sip on Beer Floats from Pizza Press and expect something that'll knock your socks off at Ice Cream Social. 

Once the votes have been compiled, the judges will announce the winners at the Ice Cream Social's sponsored stage in the TAPCO parking lot around 4 p.m. Sunday. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, July 8,

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