// Come and enjoy this free weekend of waterfront fun and education – official guide inside this issue of Tacoma Weekly

  • (File Photo)

  • BOAT TOURS. Walk the dock and board the boats at Maritime Fest. This year more than 20 sailing ships and motor vessels will be docked for tours, photos and a chance to meet the crew. (File Photo)

  • SEA LIFE. On Saturday divers with Harbor WildWatch will collect sea life from Commencement Bay and bring it to touch tanks for kids to experience. (File Photo)

As Maritime Fest reaches a milestone anniversary this year, organizers have all kinds of things planned to celebrate – and everything is free and open to everyone that wants to join the fun. Visitors will learn some new things too, as this year’s fest is highlighted by many featured events aimed at educating the public about Tacoma’s vibrant waters.

Throughout the weekend of Aug. 25 and 26, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thea Foss Park and Foss Waterway Seaport on Commencement Bay will be full of activities that all ages can participate in without breaking the family budget. Even the parking is free. Read all about what’s on board for the fest in the official Maritime Fest guide and schedule inserted inside this issue of Tacoma Weekly.

The weekend includes: more than 20 ships to explore, hydrofoil demos and sailboat races, a kid’s zone with arts and crafts, more live entertainment than ever before, port harbor tours, roving performers, music ranging from classic rock to country, folk and hip hop, lots of food vendors and a beer garden, a pirate costume contest, a free screening of “Dolphin Tale” at Thea’s Park with food provided by Taco Time, a catch and release fish tank, and a lot more.

Buzz about the fest has been steadily building about town, especially among clam chowder lovers who took part in Maritime Fest’s first annual Clam Chowder Challenge. From among the seven area restaurants that participated in the challenge, congratulations go to Katie Downs for taking first place for serving the best clam chowder in Tacoma according to those who voted at Steam.ers took second place and The Spar took third.

Congratulations and well wishes are also due to Port of Tacoma Commissioner Clare Petrich who is stepping down this year as chair of Maritime Fest. As founder of the fest all those years ago, Petrich was – and continues to be – a gift to Tacoma, its waterfront and its people through her tireless efforts to build strong foundations of community pride.

The opening ceremony for Maritime Fest 2012 is on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Vigor main stage featuring the Puyallup Tribal Drum Circle and other special guests. Closing ceremonies are Sunday at 6 p.m. on the Vigor Main Stage.

Marvin Gaviria is executive director of Maritime Fest. He said he initially got involved with the festival because he loves organizing big events, but over time he came to develop a real passion for what Maritime Fest is all about. “It’s got a good message behind it: to educate people about the waterfront and what we can do to keep it clean.”

This year fest organizers have several things planned to help educate the public about the life and ecosystems of Tacoma’s waterways.

During the first annual Squeaky Green Clean on Sunday, the public is invited to Thea’s Park starting at 9:30 a.m. to help pick up trash all along the Commencement Bay shoreline. “The idea is that we’ll bring all the trash to the entrance of Maritime Fest to show how much of an impact people can have in a couple hours of just going along the water with a trash bag.” He said that last year by working with Citizens for a Health Bay volunteers filled up two truckloads of garbage. “Everything from street signs to tires…you’ll find the weirdest stuff,” according to Gaviria.

Also new this year is a free expedition aboard marine research vessel the My Girl with lots of marine and environmental science learning activities. My Girl boards at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Foss Waterway Seaport’s docks for a two-hour outing.

At the Kids Zone, divers with Harbor WildWatch will be there on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Divers will jump into Commencement Bay to collect sea life and bring it to the touch tank where children can see and feel the types of life that exists beneath the water.

There will also be efforts to educate the community on the many city storm drains that lead directly into Thea Foss Waterway and what a danger this poses when people aren’t careful about what goes down the drains.

“We’re trying to do more things to promote getting people down to the water and create some environmental responsibility for our waterway,” Gaviria explained. “Maritime Fest is about fun, but there’s an important environmental message too.”

To learn more about the fest, visit


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