June 2014 – Seattle’s Funky Fremont Fair

Funky; adjective \ˈfəŋ-kē\ Eclectic, off-beat or counter-culture event, people or music with an earthy unsophisticated style and feeling.

Seattle is a sophisticated city, but it’s also known for its funky side. Neighborhoods like Georgetown centered by its hippy trailer park, West Seattle’s beach front, Ballard and its street buskers and bars, but the Fremont District; . . . well Fremont must be the funkiest of all with its annual Summer Solstice Street Fair – and we wouldn’t miss it.

Knowing parking would be impossible, we left the car in public parking below the Seattle Center and took the city bus a mile or so to nearby Fremont along the waterfront of the Ship Canal connecting Lake Union with Puget Sound. It was a glorious, sunny Saturday and we walked straight to the small plaza where a 20-foot tall bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin stands, a Fremont icon, and found it already crowded with fair-goers lining up for the parade. A bald eagle being chased by a flock of crows flew over the crowd – a good sign, and about 2:00 the unofficial festivities began with a horde of nude bicyclists rolling by the crowd-lined streets on bicycles, skateboards and scooters, body-painted as fanciful animals and characters.

At 3:00 the official parade began marching by with an occasional errant nude bicyclist passing through. There was the Brazilian Samba band, a Day-of-the-Dead styled Alice in Wonderland on stilts with a Queen of Hearts in drag chasing her, eclectic marching bands playing tubas, trombones, banjos and washboards. An 8-foot tall praying mantis tickled the kids in the audience with its claws while the presiding wizard of the festivities encouraged kids to lay down in a line on the street while a giant plastic ball was rolled over them.

And the audience was as funky as the parade!

The parade marched the 2-miiles from downtown Fremont to Gas Works Park where beer gardens and stages with live rock bands prepared for the evening party. After hours of standing in the sun it was time for us to go so we hired a rickshaw to peddle us back to the car. We drove directly to our favorite Indian restaurant in the University District and as the sun set we headed home tired but satisfied with a day well spent.

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