Gig Fest is Back!
Gather with the community to celebrate our beloved Gig Harbor By Jillian Chandler | Photo by Steve Essig
The Maritime Gig Festival is back … and better than ever! The community is invited to come together and celebrate, as the annual festival returns to the harbor on Saturday, June 4, and Sunday, June 5, for a weekend of fun and festivities.
Over the two-day celebration, there are a variety of family friendly events all ages will enjoy. From the Maritime Parade and Car Show, to the Blessing of the Fleet, as well as the vendors and incredible entertainment, it continues to offer a memorable experience to families year after year.
“We are excited to bring back the Maritime Gig Festival as it turns 25 years old,” smiles Miriam Battson, president and CEO of the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce. “The theme for the parade is ‘Celebration,’ as we welcome the return to our treasured traditions. Our festival sponsors are equally excited to join us this year to celebrate the reopening of the community and look forward to this family friendly event.”
As Miriam shares, the festival returns with the Kids Dash on Judson Street, followed by the US Bank Fun Run that starts in front of the Chamber office and travels along Harborview Drive (to the turning point at the intersection with Peacock Hill). The parade follows the race, and they are staging five emcees along the parade route. After the parade, food and vendor booths open, and entertainment in the Skansie Brothers Park will commence using two stages. You will find the Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Kid’s Fest behind the main stage and full of the fun activities of years past. Be sure to pop into the Net Shed at the park to learn about the community’s fishing heritage.
Miriam adds that new this year will be a Drill Down event for area NJROTC units who will be marching in the parade. This event will take place at 12:30pm on Judson Street following the parade. The ROTC units that are marching in the parade will do a drill competition for prize money to benefit their programs.
Saturday’s events will conclude with live music by The Shy Boys.
Sunday brings the Wheels on the Water Car Show and entertainment in the park. At 1pm, the procession of the Knights of Columbus and priests from St. Nicholas Catholic Church will proceed to the fisherman’s statue at Jerisich Park for the Blessing of the Fleet ceremony—which continues to be a very special component of the festival.
“For 52 years, the Knights of Columbus (a Catholic men’s fraternal order) of St. Nicholas Catholic Church have presented the Blessing of the Fleet. This is a means of bringing together the church family, fishing families and the community to celebrate the vital industry that remains in Gig Harbor,” shares Miriam. “Some of the boats go back 100 years and are on their third or fourth generation of operations.”
The procession begins at the church and continues down Rosedale to Jerisich Park, where the priest performs a liturgical service and reads the names of individuals lost in the previous fishing season. A bell is rung in their honor. Following the service, the priests and Knights of Columbus head down the dock and board runabout boats to lay wreaths and circle the fleet, sprinkling them with holy water. “It is a beautiful ceremony to observe, as the fishing fleet will be rafted together in the harbor,” adds Miriam. “Many pleasure boats join in the experience as well. If enjoying from the water, please be mindful that the rafted fishing boats only have one boat at anchor, so they will move with the tide.”
To close out the festival, there will be an Earth, Wind & Fire tribute band, Kalimba, performing. For those who would like to volunteer to be a parade marshall, assist with vendor arrival and/or setup, or help in the park throughout the weekend, please contact the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce office at 253.851.6865. According to Miriam, they are expecting larger crowds this year, and all volunteers will receive a commemorative T-shirt!
“As you can imagine, putting on a festival of this magnitude takes financial support and hundreds of volunteer hours,” states Miriam. “We want to send a thank you to our Commodore Sponsor Kitsap Credit Union and Vice Commodore Sponsors US Bank, Peninsula Light Co., Columbia Bank, City of Gig Harbor and Puget Sound Energy for your continued support for this year’s Festival.”
Celebrate our beautiful city surrounded by friends, family and community members the first weekend in June by attending the Maritime Gig Festival. For additional information, including the full event lineup, visit MaritimeGig.com.