Tastin’ n Racin’ returns for 16th year on Lake Sammamish
June 5, 2012
By Matt Carstens
Event organizers are crossing their fingers and singing, “Rain, rain go away,” this week leading up to the 16th annual Tastin’ n Racin’ at Lake Sammamish State Park from June 8-10.
Marketing Coordinator Craig Cooke, who has been with the festival since its inception in 1996, knows that weather is always a determining factor in how the weekend goes.
“You figure that weather’s always going to be chancy,” Cooke said. “And if luck is on your side you’ll have decent weather during the event, because weather is always key to outdoor festivals.”
Tastin’ n Racin’ was designed to showcase hydroplane racing on Lake Sammamish, but also features quite a bit of land-based entertainment — everything from food booths and rides to a music stage and a beer garden.
For Cooke, his dreams came true when he was able to introduce Lake Sammamish to his favorite boats.
“When we started the event I always wanted to dump a couple of the old unlimiteds on the water,” Cooke said.
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Tastin’ n Racin’
Unlimited hydroplanes are the boats that are used in Seafair. They use turbine engines from Vietnam War-era helicopters. The engines allow the hydroplanes to keep up their high speed in turns, as opposed to the old World War II airplane engines that used to be deployed.
The hydroplanes that will be featured this year are known as Grand Prix hydroplanes. They are slightly smaller, and slightly slower, but make up for it in the noise department.
“The cool thing about them is that they are loud,” Cooke said. “That’s why you call Lake Sammamish State Park ‘Thunder Valley’ during our weekend, because you can hear those boats from miles away.”
The proximity of the boats to the shore also makes Lake Sammamish a thrilling venue.
“When you get six of those Grand Prix coming down the starting line, you feel them,” Cooke said. “If the wind is just right, some of the mist will actually make it to the shore.”
This year, Tastin’ n Racin’ will feature the Mastercraft X-Treme Wakeboard Exhibition for the first time. Cooke said he is excited to see what they bring to the already jam-packed weekend.
“They’re just wild men on water with their flips and stuff like that,” Cooke said. “And they’ll be very close to the shore. It’ll be an awesome sight to see that. I’m anxious to see what that looks like.”
Proceeds from the event will benefit the H.I.D.R.O.S. Inc. and the Issaquah Explorers, which bring awareness to recreational activities in the Issaquah area. With the state park system losing funding, the parks are dependent on Discover Pass sales. Discover Passes will be available at a discounted price of $20 instead of the usual $30.
“The state park is really trying to get people to come enjoy the park,” Cooke said. “And it’s looking beautiful. They really got that place looking nice and they’re just hoping to inspire people to make the park a monthly visit for picnics and things like that.
“So we like putting on our show and hopefully people are impressed and enjoy the family outing, and want to come back for weekends in July and August and September and enjoy the state park.”