Four festivals worth finding

June 29, 2010

By Staff

There’s just something about festivals that draws the community — from the sweet smells of carnival food, to the sounds of live music and children squealing on a field of fun.

But for Issaquah residents who just can’t wait for October’s annual Salmon Days, the summer is packed with other nearby festivals from which to get their fix.

Following the main points of a compass, here’s a look at what four neighboring cities have to draw locals to their backyard.


Sept. 4-6

Bumbershoot enters middle age Labor Day weekend.

The must-do Emerald City music and arts festival — returning for a 40th year — enlisted a baby boomer icon to headline the celebration: Bob Dylan.

The craggy-voiced and craggier-faced legend kicks off the three-day festival Sept. 4. Indie folk rockers The Decemberists and singer-songwriter Neko Case round out the first day.

Weezer, punk rockers Rise Against and the Courtney Love-fronted band, Hole, bring high energy — and some ’90s-era sensibility — to day 2. Mary J. Blige, J. Cole and hip-hopper Drake bring the festival to a close the following night.

Besides the big names, Bumbershoot features up-and-coming acts by the dozen, comedians, a film festival and visual-arts exhibits.

Though geared for grown-ups, Bumbershoot also features fun for the Nickelodeon set. Youngershoot — the kid-focused festival-within-the-festival — offers family-friendly music, hands-on activities and arts programming.

Learn more about Bumbershoot, buy tickets and scan the entire festival lineup here.

Derby Days

July 9-10

When traveling north of Issaquah, go no further than Redmond to discover the city’s Derby Days.

The festival, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, began with simple aspirations. The city hosted a bike race to raise money to purchase holiday decorations. That charity event has grown into the nation’s longest running criterium, a multilap race on a closed course that takes up about four city blocks. Between 300 and 500 participants in three categories compete/participate each year.

The Kids & Grande Parade has taken on a life of its own over the years, with about 1,000 participants involving 45-75 entries, including floats, bands, nonprofit organizations and youth groups.

Up to 12,000 visitors each year meander between the vendor booths, food hawkers, the entertainment stage, carnival activities and a Field of Fun for the youngsters.

New this year is the city’s IMPACT Redmond Eco-fair that emphasizes sustainability activities. There is a green car show, a solar-powered entertainment stage, a green business showcase and vendors with living-green tips.

Festivities are capped Saturday night with a fireworks show promptly at 10 p.m. Learn more here.

Renton River Days

July 23-25

If you’re heading south, be sure to stop by Renton to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of its festival, Renton River Days.

The city first celebrated the cowboy culture with Frontier Days and later Western Days in the 1970s. The first Renton River Days consolidated the summer activities into one festival, debuting in 1986 at Liberty Park.

Since, about 45,000 per year flock to myriad activities. The mid-week Kids’ Day has been eliminated and its festivities merged into the main three-day festival. There will still be the Wenatchee Youth Circus for the kids, a parade, and a Senior Day BBQ Picnic for the kids at heart.

For those looking for sports to go with their festival activities, Renton River Days has them in spades, including a golf tournament, two tennis brackets, soccer and fun walks and, new this year, a volleyball tourney and skate park exhibition.

Then, there is the entertainment, showcasing the best in local and regional talent, plenty of mouth-watering food vendors, art displays and more.

The weekend culminates with the annual Rubber Ducky Derby, where thousands of people line the banks of the Cedar River, cheering on thousands of the little yellow guys in a to the finish line. Learn more here.

Railroad Days

Aug. 20-22

Pull the car over when traveling east into Snoqualmie to catch the 72nd year of Railroad Days to celebrate the town’s history as a railroad and logging town.

This will be the Northwest Railway Museum’s second year running the show and its staff saw no reason to try fixing what ain’t broke. The Grande Parade returns for its 70th year. Sign up for the fun run to kick off the festival and stop by the pancake breakfast for some quick, tasty carbs afterward.

The car show also returns, run by the Legends Car Club, featuring more than 200 classic hot rods. While gawking at the attractions, be sure to take a gander at the displays the museum breaks out, touting the railroad’s historical impact on the region.

There’s also entertainment booked solid throughout the weekend.

In addition to the arts and crafts booths, local artists will be in action at the train depot demonstrating their craft. Don’t forget to stop by the beer garden, where youngsters can saddle up for a frosty mug of rootbeer.

True to its namesake, Railroad Days’ signature features are the train rides running between North Bend and Snoqualmie Falls, wagon rides and the human-powered speeder car rides.

Expanded from just one day last year, museum officials hope returning to a three-day weekend will draw in thousands more to Snoqualmie’s ode to the railroad. Learn more here.

Salmon Days Festival returns for 41st season

Salmon Days Festival

Oct. 2-3

When you’ve traveled all four directions of the compass and have had your fill of other city festivals, it’s time to return to Issaquah for the biggest one of all, Salmon Days.

Having just celebrated its 40th anniversary, Salmon Days continues to attract more than 150,000 visitors to a two-day extravaganza that is an ode to the salmon returning to the lakes, streams and hatchery in Issaquah.

The award-winning festival, whose theme this year is “Something up Our Leaves,” features something for everyone. For the active, the festival kicks off early with Sporting Weekend, Sept. 25 and 26, with geoteaming, a golf tournament, a Salmon Cycle Family Bike Ride and orienteering. Festival weekend itself features the 5K and 10K Rotary Run.

Saturday’s Grande Parade attracts dozens of entrants each year, from floats and marching bands to clowns and equestrians.

Then, the streets clog for two solid days as visitors browse a marketplace of more than 350 artists and crafters and the Field of Fun for the youngsters. Scattered throughout the downtown area are five entertainment stages, sure to offer something for every musical taste.

And speaking of tastes, come hungry. The Foods of the World first lures you in with its aromas of promise, and the varied flavors keep you coming back for seconds, thirds and more.

Be sure to visit the centerpiece of the festival, the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Be enraptured by a volunteer docent’s tale of the completion of a salmon’s lifecycle — grown from fry, released into the nearby stream, journey out to sea and back, spawning anew along the way. Learn more here.

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