A festival 54 years in the making
Aquafest began as an afternoon waterski tournament between friends in 1960. Fast forward 54 years and what was once a half day of competitive fun on the water between friends has developed into three day festival!
Drawing crowds throughout the Northwest and Canada, and boasting 60 events the planning of Aquafest begins almost one year in advance.. The existing Aquafest Board, volunteer staff and anyone interested in getting involved meet immediately following the festival, while everything that has transpired is fresh in their minds. Putting together a new Executive Board, Event Chairs, a theme and Grand Marshal are decided in the Fall preparation for the following years July festival. Depending which board you serve on, meetings take place monthly or quarterly.
" Anyone in the community is invited to attend", said 2014 First President, Janice Huxford."
When new people get involved, new events get created. Such as, Aquafest Idol for entertainers 18 years of age or younger, or the Miss Aquafest Pageant, which has more to do with the young ladies as a whole person and not just how they look. Both of these relatively newer festival events begin their competitions in the Spring months. This ensures that Miss Aquafest is selected and rides in one of the lead automobiles at the Grand Parade on Saturday afternoon. The Aquafest Idol winners are scheduled to perform at the festival. This will be the first year Aquafest Idol offers a Duets catagory.
On Friday evening, July 25th at 6 p.m. the children parade down Main St. in downtown Lake Stevens in various costumes, home-made floats, in groups or in a wagon pulled by Mom & Dad at 6 p.m. This is the Aquafest Children's Parade and as the years go by this Parade has grown in attendance and creativity. The event that follows is the Proud Pet Show. From ducks to dogs, catapillers, (yes, really), to cats, ponies and pigs, this event should not be missed if you are a pet lover or just need something or someone to put a big smile on your face. It has been part of Aquafest for over 25 years and it's still going strong.
The Saturday morning waterski competitions, 1K/5K and 10/K Aqua-runs, and the Pancake Breakfast held at the downtown Lake Stevens Fire Station, served by firefighters starts off the day at 6 a.m.! At 1:00 p.m. the Aquafest Grand Parade gets underway. The City of Lake Stevens close downtown streets prior, during and for a short time after the parade culminates. This hometown parade brings residents and visitors onto the streets and sidewalks of downtown Lake Stevens as you've never seen before. Once a year families and friends celebrate a little bit of Americana, which is the theme for Aquafest this year, Red, White and Blue. Once the Grand Parade is over, Main St. in downtown looks deserted! However, that is not really the case. People disbursed to other locations of downtown Lake Stevens or they find time to rest before Saturdays big Fireworks Show. This demonstration gets rave reviews every year, and if you were not able to see a free 4th of July Fireworks show, you will not be let down when you see what this years Aquafest Fireworks Show has to offer.
Sunday, known as Family Day, gets started with the Quadrathon. Swim, bike, run and swim again, spectators get to watch athletes strive to win. There is even a catagory for Ironman or Woman, in which the individual completes all four legs of the race. These athletes are to be watched in awe. The training and dedication to be able to compete in this catagory is a tremendous fete. For the auto enthusiast a staple to Sunday's family day is the Aquafest Classic Car Show. The owners of these fine automobiles make sure their auto shines inside and out. Right down to the nuts and bolts that hold the engine and every part under the hood together! You could say these people take their hobby seriously. If you want to learn about automobiles from years gone by, the folks who own these classics can educate you and/or your children. Finally, the Family Fun Fest provides activities for the family with games that appeal to different age groups.
On-going events and main attractions through-out the 3-day festival provide additional fun and bring tourist into Lake Stevens. The ever popular Beverage Garden, hosted by the Lake Stevens Kiwanis. provides refreshments and entertainment. This is an adults 21 and over outside venue and is open at designated times through out the festival. From food booths, craft and merchandise booths, the Lake Stevens library book sale, Carnival Rides and games, multiple events on or near Lake Stevens, such as the Boat Parade, rowing, fishing and special exhibitions by the Lake Stevens Waterski Club there is always something going on at Aquafest. Plus there is a variety of on going free entertainment on stage at North Cove Park. From comedy to improv skits, bands that play country, rock, jazz or blue-grass, the Aquafest volunteers put together a great festival for our Lake Stevens community.
As Aquafest has grown change is inevitable. More events draw bigger crowds. Increases in attendance and services to accommodate those who come to Aquafest must be provided in order for the festival to be successful. This year Aquafest is benefiting from the expertise of a professional festival consultant, BOSS. The consultant will make recommendations for security and safety, and site management and logistics.
BOSS has participated in Seafair and the Bite of Edmonds, among many other events. " The Aquafest Board and City of Lake Stevens are excited about gleaning from their wealth of knowledge. " said Huxford.
As Aquafest has grown change is inevitable. More events draw bigger crowds. Increases in attendance and services to accommodate those who come to Aquafest must be provided in order for the festival to be successful. This year Aquafest is benefiting from the expertise of a professional festival consultant, BOSS. The consultant will make recommendations for security and safety, and site management and logistics. BOSS has participated in Seafair and the Bite of Edmonds, among many other events. " The Aquafest Board and City of Lake Stevens are excited about gleaning from their wealth of knowledge. " said Huxford.
Aquafest is not organized by the City of Lake Stevens or Lake Stevens Chamber of Commerce, "although their partnership is invaluable", said 1st Vice President Janice Huxford. The Aquafest Board members, both Executive and General, volunteer their time. Aquafest staff do not get paid for their services, they volunteer. The festival is financed through the generous donations and in-kind offerings of local businesses, civic organizations such as the Kiwanis, Lions Club and Rotary, church congregations and individuals throughout the community.
The 2014 Executive Board includes local business owners, community leaders and retired community members. Your 2014 Executive Board is: Lisa Elder, President and Treasurer, Sue Fernalld, Past President and Sponsorship Committee, Janice Huxford, 1st Vice President, Dave Schultz, 2nd Vice President, and Donna Foster, Secretary.
2014 Aquafest President Lisa Elder also serves as a board member to The Washington Festival and Events Association. This statewide festival organization has recognized Lake Stevens Aquafest for its commitment to recycling, and the relationships shared with vendors. Such as Foster Press who provides the Aquafest brochures and printing services and the Lake Stevens Journal who initially created the Official Aquafest Program in the mid 1980's and continues to provide the Program for Aquafest.
Currently there still are several Aquafest events available for sponsorship opportunities, according to Huxford. Positions on the Aquafest Board of Directors are open with additional openings for next year. The community is encouraged to attend the upcoming meeting on June 26th at 6:30 in the Lake Stevens School District Administration building, across from the Police Department. Inquiries can also be made through Aquafest.org and job shadowing during the 2014 festival is welcomed.