First Kirkland SummerFest to bring music, art and fun downtown

The first Kirkland SummerFest is slated for Aug. 10-11 in downtown Kirkland. - Contributed
The first Kirkland SummerFest is slated for Aug. 10-11 in downtown Kirkland.
— image credit: Contributed

Many families flock to downtown Kirkland for the Fourth of July parade. During the summer, Kirkland Uncorked brings wine enthusiasts and food connoisseurs to downtown Kirkland, while car collectors visit for the Kirkland Classic Car Show. Music lovers have the Kirkland Summer Concert Series.

But a group of Kirkland residents is preparing to bring a new and more inclusive event to downtown - Kirkland SummerFest. The event is expected to draw more than 10,000 people.

“This was the brainchild of dozens of highly involved Kirkland citizens to celebrate all the good things about Kirkland,” said local blogger Rob Butcher, who is the co-chair of the event along with Market Neighborhood chair Michelle Sailor. “All the volunteers are trying to put Kirkland’s best foot forward.”

Kirkland SummerFest will be free to the public and will take place in downtown Kirkland on August 10-11. The event is currently looking for volunteers, entertainers, vendors and business sponsors.

“The presenting sponsors are the Kirkland auto dealers and it benefits the Lake Washington Schools Foundation,” said Butcher.

One staple of Kirkland’s summer events, the Rotary Duck Dash, will move to SummerFest.

“The Rotarians have a wonderful history with the Fourth of July Parade,” said Butcher. “But they wanted an opportunity to spend the Fourth of July with their families. Plus, this gives them an extra month to raise donations. It is an honor to be working with them.”

Organizers have an ambitious event schedule that includes: Shakespeare in the Park, a SummerFest Regatta, various kids’ events, live music, 15 gourmet food trucks, Art in the Park and a baseball game at Peter Kirk Park.

Butcher said the aim is to create a family-friendly event that celebrates the arts and music and promotes economic vitality in downtown Kirkland.

The Kirkland SummerFest name is the same as an event that took place in downtown Kirkland, but stopped many years ago.

“We are really entirely different, different events, different approach,” said Butcher. “The only thing that is the same is the name and the venue.”

One of the features that sets SummerFest apart from Kirkland Uncorked and the Classic Car Show is its focus on family events.

“We are a free family-oriented event,” said Butcher, whose wife, Kate, is also helping to organize the event. “We are going to have six hours of kids’ events.”

Organizers are planning art, music, clowns, face painting, inflatable toys, story time and “Touch a Truck,” as a part of the Kids Corner events on Saturday afternoon, which will be organized by Kirklanders Sue and Santos Contreras.

The Seattle Shakespeare Company will perform “The Winter’s Tale,” at the Pavilion in Marina Park. The SummerFest Regatta will take place at Anthony’s Homeport on the Kirkland waterfront. Organizers are planning for three music locations, a main stage at Marina Park, a stage at Park Lane and Street Music at Park Lane.

Marina Park will also be the place to see special art shows that feature sculptures and Plein air artists.

SummerFest will also have things for adults, such as a beer garden.

Some of the groups that are lending their support to the event are the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce, Kirkland Downtown Association, Kirkland Alliance of Neighborhoods, Kirkland Arts Council and Kirkland Performance Center.

Butcher, along with many of the other organizers, presented the news of the event to the Kirkland City Council on April 3. The council is currently considering supporting the event with a grant.

“Any support from the city would be positive,” said Butcher. “We have been overjoyed by the support we have received thus far from the city.”

The city lost one of its major events last fall when the Kirkland Concours d’Elegance moved to Tacoma.

“That was part of the impetus,” said Butcher. “It happened to present an opportunity.”

For more information about SummerFest or to volunteer, visit

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