Junction Festival time
Chocolate dipped bananas. Face painted packs of kids. And street-dancing denizens.
This festive atmosphere only happens once a year. That's right, the West Seattle Junction Festival is here.
Hosted by the Junction Association and held in conjunction with the Junction Merchants' Sidewalk Sale, this neighborhood gathering amasses the masses for three full days of family-friendly fun every July and has grown to become one of the area's biggest and best summer street fair traditions.
"It's a family-oriented event with community ties that are stronger than ever," smiles festival coordinator Sherry Fadely.
The festival began as a merchants' sidewalk sale in 1963 founded by long-time merchant Margaret Miaullis (who ran the show until she retired last year at the age of 85). The sale became an annual event, and in 1980 expanded to include arts and crafts. Before long, Miaullis applied for permits and began closing off the main shopping area to traffic making it an official street festival in 1983.
Kids' events such as the Big Wheel Race added fun to the festival and each year came something new, from splash dunk tanks and pony rides to petting zoos and inflatable castles.
Adults' events such as baking contests also added flavor to the fest. Along with flavor, came culture. Live music and entertainment began. A beer garden sprouted up on the street. And the combination of the two brought about the famed street dance.
The biggest event of its kind in West Seattle, today the festival attracts more than 30,000 people featuring over 150 art and craft vendors, 20 food booths, two stages (with continuous live entertainment), a beer and wine garden, a children's play area, a Sunday Farmers Market, and of course, the traditional Saturday Night Street Dance.
As the neighborhood evolves, the festival grows with the community.
"It's getting more eclectic each year," says Fadely. "The food and music are more diverse and it's expanding in all ways imaginable - from booth content to the actual festival area."
The event recently grew to the north adding a second stage and more merchants.
"But it's not just about quantity," says Fadely. "It's also about quality. We are focusing on special attractions each day with a great line up of professional musicians from jazz and bluegrass to sought-after comedic performers like the Zambini Brothers and the Valentine Performing Pigs."
Though names and faces change from year to year, the festival's underlying goal is to grow and improve the event by getting the community more involved.
"This festival brings in people from well beyond West Seattle," says Fadely. "But its success starts from the inside with community-driven support and positive energy. If anything, think of the festival as an excuse to get to know your community."
So consider the festival as a way to get to know your neighbors each year. Or even go and volunteer. You might be surprised how the junction comes alive when you're a part of the action in the heart of West Seattle.
West Seattle Junction Festival
West Seattle Junction
(from Edmunds to Oregon on California Ave., and from 42nd to 44th on Alaska St.)
Fri. and Sat. July 15th and 16th from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
(Sat. Night Street Dance runs from 8 p.m.-Midnight);
Sun. July 17th 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.
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Have you heard about "101 Things," the book?
Visit Lori this weekend at the Junction Festival's West Seattle Herald booth to see a sampling of her new guidebook, "West Seattle 101: A Hundred and One Things to Do in West Seattle," due out in September - and enter to win a free copy!