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Olympia Arts Walk

The Golden Anniversary of one helluva fun time

Street performers will hit the, er, street during the Olympia Arts Walk, April 24-25. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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This weekend, Olympia gets artsy and wild at the 50th Arts Walk and 21st annual Procession of the Species.

The streets of Olympia will be filled with music, street performers and people interested in seeing art and being seen - and, on Saturday afternoon, with a lion, a giraffe, polar bears and giant flowers a la "Alice in Wonderland."

The weekend celebrates Olympia's D.I.Y. culture and environmental consciousness, and it's a great opportunity to do arts and crafts, ooh and ah and explore new things.

In other words, no matter your age, you're invited to act like a kid again.

Here are a few highlights of the weekend that give you the opportunity to do just that. Find more in the official Arts Walk map, available at participating locations and at The Olympia Center, or on the city's Arts Walk app (

Procession of the Species

The 21st annual procession, which honors the natural world, is arguably Olympia's biggest costume party. While some costumes are extremely elaborate, pretty much anything in the spirit - as long as it doesn't include words or logos - is welcome: Some participants plan and sew for weeks to transform themselves into flamingos or dandelions. Others carry windsocks or fish on sticks (not to be confused with fish sticks), and still others throw together colorful ensembles the morning of the procession and take to the streets.

The parade also includes human-powered floats that are pushed or pedaled through the streets. (No motors are permitted, except motorized wheelchairs.)

If you'd rather watch than participate, the procession still offers the opportunity to exercise your childlike side. Greet and giggle at the goofy and glamorous creatures moving through the streets. Gasp with wonder at the rolling rhino.

And you can be part of it even if you'd rather watch than process: Just take advantage of the chalk handed out before the procession so spectators can add to the spectacle with colorful decorations on the streets and sidewalks.

Adult story hour

This chance to sit and listen to stories - told by Elizabeth Lord, Olympia's best-known storyteller - is definitely not for the little ones. "When we were children, there was story hour at the library," Lord says. "Don't you miss it? Don't you wish you could sit down and be transported?"

If so, here's your chance. Lord will be telling her original stories - funny, frank and both relatable and utterly unique - at 7 p.m. April 24 at The Bandha Room, 119 Capitol Way N.

She's promising some improvisational stories, based on audience suggestions.

"I'll have the audience select a protagonist and three things that happen to them and then I'll craft a story on the spot," she says. "Knowing that it's adult story hour, people can have a bit of fun selecting what the events are in the story."

Lord will also be reading from some romance novels, an idea suggested by Bandha Room owner Aeryk Bjork. "I don't think I've been to a book reading where it's Harlequin romances or something like that," she says. "Those are books that people read in private."

Maker space open house

OlyMEGA - Olympia Makers, Engineers, Geeks and Artists - is opening up its space at 312 4th Ave. E. for exploration. And for adults, the group is adding beer.

"We're setting up the space to be a little bit like a science fair," says Adrienne Testa, a member of the organization. "People will be able to come and check out all the inventions."

Hands-on activities will include a light you can control with your Smartphone.

The group is involved in a wide range of projects, she says - from computer programming to making cider.

The beer will be served at the adults-only open house from 7 to 10 p.m. April 25; all ages are welcome from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Puppet show

Among the characters you'll meet at Brady Fowler's all-ages puppet shows is the wooden marionette Noodlebrain, whose 2008 YouTube presidential campaign focused on the fact that he's a "real puppet." "You will be able to get a candidate that can be manipulated," he proclaims.

Fowler, whose show will also include hand puppets, mouth puppets and rod puppets, had his own touring puppet company in the 1980s, when he lived in North Carolina. He'll present excerpts from shows he did then along with some of Noodlebrain's adventures.

The shows are at 8 p.m. April 24 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. April 25 at Chinese Healing & Movement Arts, 606 Columbia St. SW.

ARTS WALK 50, 5-10 p.m. April 24 and noon-8 p.m. April 25, downtown Olympia, free, 360.753.8380 or

LUMINARY PROCESSION, 9:30 p.m. April 24, from Fifth and Washington through downtown to Sylvester Park, 360.705.1087 or

, 4:30 p.m. April 25, from Legion and Cherry through downtown to Heritage Park, 360.705.1087 or

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