Summer festivals for families

Plenty of fun in the South Sound

By Kristin Kendle on May 8, 2014

Few things mean summer more than a festival, and many of the South Sound's summer festivals are family-friendly in every way. Take the kids, enjoy some fair food, arts and crafts vendors, live music and often a few rides, too. The South Sound lights up with festivals throughout the summer months, but here are a few that are especially noteworthy.

Duck Dash

Duck Dash is a fundraiser for the Rotary Club. Participants purchase as many rubber ducks as they'd like; each one comes with a number. A crane parks on a bridge over a river and dumps thousands of rubber duckies from a great height into the river, where they all rush through the rapids to get to the finish line. Winners get prizes! Duck Dash involves a few kids' activities in the park before the big race and a few food booths, but everyone is there for the duck race and it's a huge hit with little ones.

When and where in 2014: June 7 at Tumwater Falls Park in Olympia

Ethnic Fest

Ethnic Fest celebrates the cultures of the world with food, music, dance performances, art and more fun, all set in the green spaces of Wright Park. Wright Park also has a great playground and splash park to help the kids run some energy off.

When and where in 2014: June 26-27 at Wright Park in Tacoma

Taste of Tacoma

The Taste is billed as the "ultimate family picnic." As you might guess from the name, the Taste is largely about food. Close to 30 restaurants come to the Taste with a few items from their menus - a great opportunity to get the kids trying new foods. There are also art vendors, rides, games and live music.

When and where in 2014: June 27-29 at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma

Freedom Fair

The ultimate family festival is Freedom Fair, Tacoma's massive July 4th party on the water. Older kids will love the airshow, complete with jets. Aside from the usual fair fun, some activities in 2014 that are especially for kids include a remote control car race track, a roving magic show by John the Magic Guy, and a BMX bike show.

When and where in 2014: July 4 at Tacoma's Waterfront

Lakefair Olympia

Lakefair is like a mini state fair - rides, games and fair food, but without the admission fees! While the entire fair is designed for families (dogs are even welcome!), there's usually a Kids' Day event during the weeklong event. At the end of the festival, head down to the lake for fireworks.

When and where in 2014: July 16-20 along the shore of Capital Lake

Harbor Days

Harbor Days is a fun mix of tug boats, more than 200 arts and crafts booths, food, and fun. Kids young and old can climb aboard the tug boats and explore, or watch them race in the bay on Sunday. A kids area also ups the ante on the family friendliness of Harbor Days. If it's a hit, make sure to check out Tacoma's Maritime Fest in September, which has even more boats, a kid zone, and often free train rides.

When and where in 2014: Aug. 29-31 at Percival Landing in Olympia

Proctor Arts Fest

Proctor Arts Fest is a community festival with a natural family atmosphere. Artists sell their wares and live music stages keep the scene lively. A Family Stage is dedicated to kids' entertainment as well as a dog show and dog parade - not something you see every day!

When and where in 2014: Aug. 2 in the Proctor District of North Tacoma