Compiled by Bridget Charters
It can be sad to see our beautiful summers come to an end. We just got our boats moving and are using them on a regular basis, and now it is over!? Do not despair, for there are many food-related festivals happening in and around Puget Sound. Extend the fun of summer with some weekend excursions and fall festivals.
An excellent weekend out could be put on the calendar and friends contacted for an escape to spots throughout Puget Sound. That fruits like apples and pears are being harvested and albacore tuna and salmon are running means this time of year is ripe for foodie fun.
With the increase in population in the Pacific Northwest, many of our cities have also grown along with places like Seattle and Bellevue. Local communities are now planning their own events and festivals, and we no longer need to travel to the larger cities for fall fun. Many of those events can be accessed by boat. With the buzz of the summer behind, fall boating often means fewer people and more open slips. Locals know about fall’s allure in these parts while the rest of the world is still figuring it out.
Travelling by boat allows us to immediately escape the stress of traffic and crowds now a norm in our metropolises. When we pull out of our slip and glide onto the water, we might see one or two other boats and a few more in the distance, but we won’t really see more boats until we pull into a slip at one of our locales around Cascadia. Boats afford us a way to see our beautiful environs from a different point of view.
If you are lucky enough to own a boat, wait until later to tuck it away for ski season. Check out some of the events listed below as an excuse to get around the Sound by boat in autumn. The season isn’t over yet!
September, especially on the weekend of the 21 and 22, is full of fun festival options throughout Washington. Some notable ones are in Port Angeles, Bellingham, Kirkland, Port Townsend, and Seattle.
Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival
Sept. 6-8, Port Townsend, WA
This nautical mainstay is widely thought to be the second largest wooden boat festival in the world behind Tasmania’s. This year will be the 43rd and run from September 6 to 8 in Port Townsend. There is simply too much sea salty goodness to list here, so see the entire staggering array of offerings online at woodenboat.org.
Port Townsend is essentially a boat-themed community, so there are plenty of moorage options. It’s wise to assume that the Point Hudson Marina, which serves as the venue for the in-water parts of the festival, is at capacity. You may want to venture south past the ferry terminal to the Port Townsend Boat Haven marina. Call ahead, best not to wing slip availability for this busy day in Port Townsend. Folks also drop their hooks off the City Pier, but first check the weather. It’s not exactly sheltered and there are protected sea grass beds to avoid.
Port Townsend Film Festival
Sept. 19-22, Port Townsend, WA
’t your thing, it is a short hop to Port Townsend to the Port Townsend Film Festival. The Festival happens September 19 to the 22 with events throughout the entire historic downtown. The festival boasts 90 films over the course of the weekend, along with trade panels, talks, and outdoor films. Having a boat nearby at one of the local marinas could be a ton of fun! Port Townsend has great restaurants, shops, and a fabulous farmers market all within walking distance of the local marinas. Hitting this event by boat with a bunch of friends would be a blast. For more information about the Port Townsend Film Festival, visit ptfilmfest.com.
Sept. 20-22, Fremont, Seattle, WA
In Seattle, there are a number of events that one could travel to by boat. The weekend of Friday September 20 to 22 is Fremont Oktoberfest, a fun festival for 21 and older in and around the center of the universe: Fremont (fremontoktoberfest.com).
As far as marinas go, you’re spoiled for choice both on the north and south side of the Fremont Cut and Lake Union. Be advised that, due to the population boom of Seattle, moorage can be scarcer than it used to be, so calling ahead is probably wise. You will have to pass the Ballard Locks to get to the Lake Union area, so be prepared for that if you’re visiting from out of town.
If the dense city and Locks sounds like a lot, the massive Shilshole Bay Marina is a few miles away in Ballard but still on Puget Sound. A rideshare app or a pair of bikes along the Burke-Gillman trail will get you and yours to Fremont Oktoberfest, no problem. Boat responsibly!
Sept. 20-22, Kirkland, WA
That same weekend across Lake Washington is Kirkland Oktoberfest, a Bavarian-style beer party with lots of food, games, and contests along with the giant beer garden. To find out more, visit oktoberfestkirkland.com.
Like Fremont Oktoberfest, it might be fun to have your boat nearby for a short walk home at the end of the night! The easiest way to do this one if you’re coming from the west is to do Fremont Oktoberfest one day and continue east through the Montlake Cut the next. A hop across Lake Washington to the Kirkland City Dock takes you into the heart of the Kirkland Oktoberfest. Prost!
Fishermen’s Fall Festival
Sept. 21, Fisherman’s Terminal, Ballard/Interbay, Seattle, WA
If drinking a lot of beer and eating wurst is not your thing, then the Fishermen’s Fall Festival on September 21 might be the event for you.
The Festival celebrates the return of the North Pacific fishing fleet to the terminal. It also works to increase the public’s knowledge of the importance of the fishing industry as well as the Fishermen’s Terminal to Seattle, while raising money for the Seattle Fishermen’s Memorial Foundation.
The festival is located at the Ballard’s Fisherman’s Terminal (also through the Locks) with plenty of slips for moorage. It’s a central location about a half-mile walk across the Ballard Bridge away from downtown Ballard, where you can catch the Sunday farmer’s market, a movie at the Majestic Bay Theatre, or a nice dinner on Ballard Ave. For more information visit
Arts and Draughts
Sept. 20-22, Port Angeles, WA
Out west on the Olympic Peninsula and south of Victoria, B.C., Port Angeles hosts the Arts and Draughts Festival the third weekend in September. This festival features the best of all worlds: beverages, food, artsy street fair, and music concerts. The entire festival happens in and around the downtown Port Angeles area and is easily accessed by boat. The festival runs Friday to Sunday with plenty of events to keep all members of the family happy. For more information on the festival visit portangelesbeerfest.com.
Port Angeles Boat Haven is a short walk to downtown and the festival area and has many amenities to tide you over for the weekend. For more information on Port Angeles Boat Haven, visit portofpa.com.
Sept. 21, Bellingham, WA
The fourth ever Bellingham SeaFeast, an annual celebration of the Salish Sea, has grown into a major production, effectively taking over Zuanich Point Park, Squalicum Harbor, and downtown Bellingham. The lineup of seafood and maritime heritage-related offerings is simply staggering; check out bellinghamseafeast.org for more information.
As far as moorage goes, the obvious options are the Port of Bellingham and Squalicum Harbor. Guest slips are generally available in the massive marina; however, it’s probably wise to prepare ahead due to SeaFeast’s popularity. If you can score a slip, you’ll be right in the middle of the good times.
Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival
Sept. 28-29, The Center For Wooden Boats, Seattle, WA
The Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival, located at the south end of Seattle’s Lake Union. The festival boasts music, food vendors, tours, talks, and all types of fun activities for the entire family. There are plenty of delicious restaurants within walking distance of the festival. To find out more about the Lake Union festival, visit cwb.org.
Moorage could be tricky, but with enough planning can be had. Like the Oktoberfests of September, passing through the Locks and planning ahead for the tapped out moorage space around Lake Union is a good idea. The folks at the Center for Wooden Boats, the organizer of the event, may have suggestions (see website above).
The Washington festival momentum doesn’t cease going into October, with notable events in places like Issaquah, Anacortes, Port Angeles, and Shelton.
Bier on the Pier
Oct. 4-5, Anacortes, WA
To the north
in Anacortes, October boasts the large Bier on the Pier festival located at the historic Port of Anacortes Warehouse. The festival hosts beers, ciders, music and bites for two days. See more at
The festival is in the downtown area within walking distance of multiple marinas. For a boater, this trip to Anacortes can happen from the San Juan Islands or Bellingham area or a quick jaunt from Seattle.
Oct. 4-5, Shelton, WA
Down in the south Sound during the weekend of October 5 and 6, the town of Shelton plays host to the annual OysterFest celebrating the south Puget Sound and the oyster industry. More beer and cider can be had at this festival, along with Washington wines, and an amazing amount of oysters. Mollusks and microbrews are the boast of this non-profit event that funds local community projects and scholarships.
The Washington oyster shucking contest is held at the festival and is not to be missed. It is amazing to watch, and those that win the shucking competition have serious bragging rights with competitors from Pacific Northwest oyster companies, oyster cafes, and restaurants. The contest is dividing by shucking type: speed or half shell, then completed in heats, with the best of the best competing at the end. To find out more, visit oysterfest.org.
Moorage for Shelton is limited to Oakland Bay Marina, so call ahead and watch the tides, but it could be a fun run down in a powerboat with a stay overnight in Tacoma or Gig Harbor on the way down.
Oct. 4-5, Issaquah, WA
Salmon Days is an annual celebration of all things salmon and a big day for the town of Issaquah on Lake Sammamish. Now celebrating its 50th year, the 2019 event promises to be a big one with over 250 artists, tons of food vendors, three stages with live entertainment the, Grande Parade, and more, more, more. If you’re a salmon fan, this is a must-do. The location of Issaquah makes this one a landlubberly commute to the event, but for salmon, it’s well worth it. To find out more, visit issaquahchamber.com/salmondays.
Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival
June 20-23, Roche Harbor Resort and Marina
After Bier on the Pier, you can continue home or leave your boat for the week in Anacortes, then make a run to Port Angeles the following weekend for the great Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival running October 10 to 12. This festival boasts multiple events over a three-day period, from crab derbies, to a 5k fun run, arts and crafts, music, a massive community crab dinner, cooking demonstrations, and, of course, a chowder cookoff. If you make the trip for the weekend, there will be plenty to do and a fun run to burn off all the food you will be enjoying! Find out more at: landing.crabfestival.org.
As mentioned in the September events, moorage is a snap in Port Angeles and having your boat close will assist in midafternoon naps! Arranging something ahead of time is wise during busy events like this.
In conclusion, many Puget Sound towns and cities have local fall festivals celebrating harvest for the fall season. Most communities have events pages with links to their local happenings and are relatively easy to locate via the internet. So, if you decide not to check out any of these festivals, there is a good chance something is happening somewhere else.
Wait to start the process of storing your boat! Considering the traffic in Seattle, travel by boat looks fairly alluring. Shift your usual mode in the fall and go by boat, whether it be to a fall festival, a jazz fest, or a Husky game. Take advantage of the good fortune you have in owning a boat. Do not hesitate, because if you are slow to react, fall will be gone.