By Kari Bray Herald Writer
LAKE STEVENS — Aquafest organizers have planned more than 60 different events for this weekend in downtown Lake Stevens.
The 54th Annual Lake Stevens Aquafest is set to kick off Friday at about 5 p.m. and wrap up Sunday evening, with the carnival and most events located near Lake Stevens City Hall and North Cove Park. A free shuttle is scheduled to run regularly between parking at Lake Stevens High School and downtown.
The heart of Aquafest is the lake, said Janice Huxford, vice president of the Aquafest Executive Board. She said any events related to the water are crowd-pleasers. These include boat races, water skiing, rowing lessons and fireworks over the lake. A new skurfing event is also planned this year, where people ride a surfboard in the wake of a boat, usually holding onto a 10-foot rope.
“And we have a boat parade, which no one else in the area can boast because we are the only city with a lake in the middle of our festival,” Huxford said.
There is no charge for general admission to Aquafest. Free events include a pet show, outdoor movie, car show and pizza eating contest. Some activities, including carnival rides and boating events, have separate participation fees.
This year’s festival theme is All American Aquafest: United We Lake.
“Every year, we try to do something that has a water theme,” Huxford said. “This year, we really wanted something that’s kind of Fourth of July meets American and veteran pride.”
During Sunday’s festivities, U.S. military veterans can get free 15-minute massages on Main Street across from City Hall.
For the first time, the city of Lake Stevens and Aquafest coordinators also hired a consultant to help with setup and security at the event. As Aquafest grows, safety becomes more important and the setup is too much for volunteers to handle alone, Huxford said.
“Every year we see more people come, and from farther away,” she said.
Planning each year’s Aquafest kicks off in August, weeks after the previous Aquafest comes to an end, she said. About 45 volunteers organize the festival each year.
It’s a locally driven event, Huxford said. Lake Stevens businesses and organizations like the Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary clubs donate time, money and services or products.
“There’s a substantial cost for a festival of this size and it’s all covered by local businesses and organizations, and by in-kind donations,” Huxford said.
The list of Aquafest activities this year includes a children’s parade, teen dance, pancake breakfast, disc golf tournament, water races, chalk art and the annual Aquafest Idol singing contest. A full schedule is available at www.aquafest.org.
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439, email@example.com