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South Sound YMCA Child Care Lends a Helping Hand

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 9:46am



olympia ymca child careJerry Seinfeld could have been speaking of summer vacation when he claimed “There is no such thing as fun for the whole family.”  At this midway point in the school holidays, most parents are counting the days until school starts and routines are firmly back in place.

If a helping hand is needed in the childcare arena, the South Sound YMCA is always there.  For nearly 25 years, they have provided a safe, welcoming environment for children from 4 weeks of age through 12 years.  Over that time more than 30,000 children have shared in their mission; as they advertise “at the Y we provide more than a place for kids to go.  We care for kids by providing nurturing development, healthy lifestyle choices, self-reliance through positive relationships, and values-based learning.”

South Sound YMCA Child Development Director Ron White is proud that “many of our families stay with us for years.”

ymca summer campThe Y’s team of caring and highly-trained staff provides many options for care, depending on the need and time of year.  As White explains, “We have three distinctly different experiences:  Campus is an early learning center at SPSCC that provides care and curriculum for children from 4 weeks until kindergarten.  They are focused on social and emotional growth and provide curriculum that is geared to help children be kindergarten ready when they leave the program.  Many of the children that attend this program go on to Y Care afterschool at their home elementary school.”

White continues, “Afterschool care is available at 30 different local elementary schools and is focused on recreation, health & wellness and homework assistance.  We have worked hard on transforming our program into a child-driven one.  We want them to feel the center is their own and enlist their help in designing it.  The curriculum is theme-based and focuses on learning in an experiential way.”

ymca healthy kids dayDuring the summer months, the Y offers at least five different specialty focused camps each week, with various themes.  “We continue to bring the fun because we want the children to enjoy their summer, but with a strong focus on learning around the theme,” explains White.

For military families, the Y offers Army School-Age Programs In Your Neighborhood (ASPYN).  Families in this program often qualify for reduced childcare fees.  “This has been a fantastic partnership,” White says.  “Through the Army we have received the resources to have three of our programs nationally accredited and have been able to provide numerous trainings to the staff at all of our school-age locations.  We have also had the opportunity to provide a tutor at three locations.  The tutor gives the children extra focus on school work.”  Because military life can include frequent moves and transitions for children, this extra support helps maintain continuity in education and provide a caring place for friendship and play.

YMCA_Military_BoysTo contact the YMCA Child Care Office, visit 108 State Avenue, Olympia or call 360-705-2642.

The Campus Early Learning Center at SPSCC runs Monday through Friday from 6:45 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and summer camps will continue through the week of August 25.  Camp hours are Monday-Friday from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. for campers aged 5-12.

The South Sound YMCA is so much more than just a place to exercise or take swimming lessons.  It is a tremendous resource for all residents interested in prevention, community, and caring support.  By offering childcare with an endless variety of options, the Y helps local families stay strong and successful.


Owen Timms No Stranger to National Sailing Competitions

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 7:24am



By Tom Rohrer

duncan sponsorThere’s something about being on the water that brings out the best in Owen Timms.

The 13-year-old, soon to be eighth grader at Nova Middle School, has gone from sailing enthusiast to amateur racing expert in less than half a decade.

olympia youth sailing

Owen Timms sails at Cascade Rocks in Oregon.

“I love being out on the water.  Sailing is one of the only sports to allow me to be out on water,” said Timms.  “It’s a challenge just being out there and I love that challenge.”

Timms is a junior camp instructor at the Olympia Yacht Club as well as a member of the OYC High School sailing team and the Seattle Yacht Club Junior Race Team.  He has traveled around the country to compete against the best young navigators in the country.

Timms enrolled in a sailing camp through the OYC at age eight and after receiving encouragement from former coach Jan Visser, he joined the Northwest Youth Racing Circuit.

“She wanted me to give it a shot,” said Timms of the instruction he received from the late coach Visser.  “Without her, I wouldn’t have had that chance.”

Along with the NYRC, Timms has traveled to Florida, California, Maine and most recently Sanford, CT., for the USA Team Trials regatta.  Later this week, Timms will head to down to Marina Del Rey, Calif., for the Club Flying Junior National Championships held Thursday, July 24 through Saturday, July 26.

Timms’s extensive national competition experience has not only made him a stronger sailor, but has brought him a boat-load (pun intended) of new friends.

“The bigger the regatta, the more experience you gain.  The competition is tough and you feel good just being there.  You gain more confidence,” Timms said of his national experience.

olympia youth sailing

Owen Timms took his first sailing class at age eight. Now 13, Timms is a junior instructor at the Olympia Yacht Club summer sailing program.

“I love meeting new people in new places,” Timms continued. “I have friends in Florida, Bermuda, all over.  It’s pretty weird to think that I wouldn’t have met them without sailing.”

While making friends is an objective for Timms at regattas, the main goal is to perform as well as possible.  Barley a teenager, Timms still finds the competition is a driving force for his passion.

“I love the competition.  The challenge really pushes you to stay focused (at regattas) the whole time,” he said.

In terms of national competitions, one of Timms best performances came in March down in Florida.  On the first day of the event, Timms boat finished 17th out of 260 vessels.

“That really boosted my confidence a lot,” said Timms. “It was a huge regatta.”

Though he has proven himself on a national stage, Timms has room for improvement.  No one recognizes this fact more than Timms himself.

“There are still a ton of things to work on.  My technique is not perfect, and really there’s always something to do,” he said. “There’s never been (a sailor) who has known everything.”

Timms has benefitted from coaching and instruction since his infancy.  He estimates he first went on his father’s sailboat at age two.  Six years later, he was enrolled at the OYC and has been absorbing tips and tactics along the way.

“I’ve had great coaching my whole life,” Timms said. “Seattle, Olympia and people I’ve met (at competitions), it’s all helped me get to this point.”

One such coach was Visser, the Olympia Yacht Club Sailing Director, who passed away in late April at the age of 73.

olympia youth sailing

Timms sails at Shilshole Bay in Seattle. He competes across the country in a variety of sailing events.

“She was the one that wanted me to try and go for it. I did, and now I’m hooked on it,” he said.  “I owe her a lot.”

Timms is also grateful for the sacrifices his family has made to allow him to compete at such a high level.

“Without my parents, I wouldn’t be able to go to Seattle almost every weekend or to the big regattas.  I think they enjoy it as well, but it’s a challenge for the entire family,” Timms said. “I really appreciate how hard they work to (allow) me to sail.  I have a little brother who is six, and he has to miss things too.  They all make sacrifices.”

Timms continues to make the most of his family’s sacrifices and appears headed on the right track towards a successful sailing career.   Even at a young age, Timms has set goals for himself and plans on accomplishing them in due time.

“I’d love to get into a great college that has a varsity sailing team. That would be perfect,” he said.

Until then, Timms will continue spending time in his natural element.

“I can’t get away from the water.  The wind, the views, the smells, I love it all.”

For more information on the youth sailing camps and lessons in Olympia, visit


Meet Mike McKinnon, Owner of Thurston County’s Dairy Queens

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 5:53am



dairy queen franchise

Mike McKinnon’s parents started their first Dairy Queen franchise in 1976 in Lacey.

Think back to playing sports as a kid. Odds are, you didn’t go celebrate after the big game with a formal, sit-down dinner at a fancy restaurant. You probably went out for ice cream, right?

My family and I can often be found at the Tumwater Dairy Queen after one of my older daughter’s summer soccer games. We happily pop in for a dipped cone or a Blizzard and are quickly on our way, smiling from ear to ear.

It’s the stuff of which fond family memories are made.

Mike McKinnon, a graduate of Olympia High School, knows a thing or two about this. He and his parents own of all of the Dairy Queen’s in Thurston County as well as the location in Centralia.

“My parents got into the business back in 1976,” he recounts. “They purchased their first store in Lacey on Pacific Avenue, and then they expanded through the years. They built stores in Tumwater, Rochester, Olympia, Yelm, and Centralia.”

Dairy Queen “is in the family DNA,” admits McKinnon, who worked briefly at his parent’s old South Sound Mall location as a young teenager, but didn’t come into the business officially until 1998.

“We call it ‘fan food,’ not ‘fast food,’” he states. “Dairy Queen is tied to happy memories and the celebrations of life’s great little moments. Everyone lays claim to ‘My DQ’. It’s a great business.”

dairy queen franchise

Mike McKinnon believes in giving teens a start in the business world at one of his Dairy Queen franchises.

McKinnon believes strongly in giving local teens their first taste of what it means to be a part of the work force. A teenager can expect a solid foundation of work ethic to form as an employee at a local Dairy Queen.

“This industry is where many young people learn how to have a job – how to show up on time, to listen to instruction from managers, and how to work as a team. If they don’t get that in sports or other high school activities, this is another place for them to get that experience.”

Teenagers today are different from even five years ago, yet their role at work at Dairy Queen remains unchanged and unaffected by their need to connect in an increasingly digital age. “Kids can learn to work and have fun within a structure here,” explains McKinnon. The demands of the job haven’t changed much. Employees still make burgers, sandwiches and soft serve ice cream treats.

What has changed is that Dairy Queen has shifted to an online application process. However, the old-fashioned advice to following-up on an application in person at the place of business still holds true.

“Just don’t come during the lunch rush,” cautions McKinnon with a smile. “We’re always hiring,” he adds.

Currently, McKinnon provides work for anywhere from 225 to 240 individuals in our area. He is giving back to our community by sponsoring sports teams, along with sponsoring the high school internship positions here at ThurstonTalk. He is generously giving kids an opportunity to learn about the world of journalism outside of high school.

dairy queen franchise

At the Tumwater location, Mike McKinnon and his father reminisce about how Dairy Queen is tied to “life’s happy little moments.”

As for his own favorite item on Dairy Queen’s menu?

“The Blizzard is still king. My favorite is the cappuccino-Heath Blizzard.  I like the coffee, and I’m a toffee guy.”

Next up for McKinnon’s Dairy Queen empire? Local Dairy Queens will soon have mobile loyalty programs, much like those you see at businesses like Starbucks. Customers will scan something with their smart phone to receive rewards at the checkout.

2015 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Dairy Queen as a brand. “We will have some very exciting things coming that are very fan-driven. There will be contests for determining Blizzards of the Month, and a lot of the flavors that have been our greatest hits will be making an appearance,” explains McKinnon.

Unfortunately for this local soccer mom, one of those flavors will not be Reese’s Pieces. Lucky for my kids, though, the cotton candy flavor may make a comeback.

You can learn more about the online application process for Dairy Queen by visiting


2014 Lakefair Fireworks

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 6:35pm



Thurston County’s long-standing summer festival, Lakefair, celebrated it’s 57th year on the shores of Capitol Lake last week.  And once again, the grand finale of the 5 day event was the Lakefair Fireworks show.  With music synchronized on  KGY AM-1240, viewers “oooh-ed” and “ahhh-ed” through the spectacular show which started at 10:00 p.m..  Thank you to local photographer and ThurstonTalk reader Chris Hamilton for these amazing photos of the night.

Lakefair 2014 1 Lakefair 2014 2 Lakefair 2014 3 Lakefair 2014 4 Lakefair 2014 5 Lakefair 2014 6 Lakefair 2014 7 Lakefair 2014 8 Lakefair 2014 9 Lakefair 2014 10 Lakefair 2014 11 Lakefair 2014 12 Lakefair 2014 13 Lakefair 2014 14 Lakefair 2014 15 Lakefair 2014 16 Lakefair 2014 17 Lakefair 2014 18 Lakefair 2014 19 Lakefair 2014 20 Lakefair 2014

One Week Left for Thurston County Fair Pre-sale Discounts

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 5:40pm


Submitted by The Thurston County Fair

DDM Thurston County Fair-33If you want to beat the stampede and get savings for the whole herd, you’ll have to hurry—discounts on advance purchase carnival armbands for this year’s fair end on Tuesday, July 29.

Get your biggest savings with your advance purchase of carnival ride armbands for only $19 each—that’s $5 off the regular price. Carnival armbands are good for unlimited carnival rides for one day during the 2014 fair that runs Wednesday, July 30 through Sunday, August 3. Season passes are also bargain at 40 percent off the full price daily admission rate. Family Passes will get you five admissions for $25 when purchased in advance, but Family Pass supplies are limited, so get yours today. Remember, admission for children 5 years old and under is always free! All advance purchase passes and carnival armbands are available only at the Thurston County Fair Office in Lacey. For even more savings, bring your carnival armband on July 30 for “One Buck Wednesday.” All adult, youth and senior admission prices are just $1 with a non-perishable food donation per person to the Thurston County Food Bank. Doors open at 10 a.m. on One Buck Wednesday. Be sure to check out all of the One Buck Wednesday specials, including one buck food specials, and other One Buck Wednesday deals at participating vendors. Kid’s Day is Thursday, July 31 when all admission tickets for kids 6 to 14 years old are just $2 when purchased at the gate. August 1 is also Buddy Day when you can get two carnival armbands for $24 if you and a buddy are both present at the time of purchase (no advance purchase available for Buddy Day special). Friday, August 1 is Military Appreciation Day at the fair, when fairgoers can get $2 admission tickets when they present their military ID at the gate. There are also lots of other vendor and food deals—just ask about Military Appreciation Day specials and present your military ID.   Discount Advance Purchase Fair Passes & Carnival Ride Armbands
  • One-day unlimited carnival rides armband advance purchase — $19  Ends July 29! (gate price $24; ride tickets $1.25 each)
  • Family Pass (limited quantities available, buy now!) — $25
  • Season Pass (40 percent off the daily admission rate) — $10 to $21
  • *Children ages 5 and under are always FREE!
On sale now through Tuesday, July 29 at the Thurston County Fair Office at 3054 Carpenter Road SE in Lacey, 98503. To learn more about 2014 fair events, entertainment and exhibits, contact the Thurston County Fair Office at (360) 786-5453 or visit   “Fun for the Whole Herd at the Thurston County Fair!” July 30 – Aug. 3

Mental Health Access Program Set to Transition to The Olympia Free Clinic

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 5:36pm



Submitted by CHOICE Regional Health Network

The Mental Health Access Program, a free mental health counseling clinic serving Thurston and Mason counties, is set to transition August 1, 2014. The program is a community-developed project that began in 2007, and has been administered by CHOICE Regional Health Network since that time. The Olympia Free Clinic will assume program leadership in August.

The Mental Health Access Program was established in Thurston County to meet the demands of uninsured and under-insured residents who need access to counseling services. The program was built on a brief intervention therapy model serving adults experiencing anxiety or depression symptoms. Licensed mental health professionals volunteer their time and services at the clinic.

Not only does this program provide counseling services; it also helps clients who need assistance navigating community resources fulfill their most basic needs. Several years ago, the clinic expanded the service area to include adult residents in Mason County. Until July, these sessions were held weekly at the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department.

The decision to transition the program was prompted by the desire to better integrate mental health and physical health services for community members experiencing anxiety and depression symptoms. The transition also reflects a shift in emphasis by CHOICE Regional Health Network toward health care quality improvement initiatives that are regional in scope. In looking for an organization that already works closely with many of the individuals who benefit from the program, The Olympia Free Clinic was the logical destination. The Olympia Free Clinic operates several clinics focused on primary care, women’s health, physical therapy/chiropractic, and massage. The individuals served by the Mental Health Access Program are some of the most vulnerable. By co-locating and integrating the mental health clinic into the primary care services offered by The Olympia Free Clinic, we anticipate that the individuals within the program will have access to a broad range of health-support resources that they need to move towards improved health.

Discussions between The Olympia Free Clinic and CHOICE were held in early spring and summer to develop a transition plan and timeline. The Mental Health Access Program has paused in seeing patients while focusing on the transition of the program. Effective August 1st, the clinic will reopen at the downtown location of The Olympia Free Clinic, which will assume all administrative responsibilities at that time.

“We are pleased to see the program transition to The Olympia Free Clinic,” said Winfried Danke, CHOICE’s Executive Director. “The program will be strengthened through better integration with primary care and other support services, and that is great news for the individuals served by this program.”

Paula Rauen, The Olympia Free Clinic’s Executive Director said, “Adding the Mental Health Access Program to The Olympia Free Clinic’s array of services will be a great benefit to our patients. This merger supports our holistic approach to providing quality health care to those most in need.”

Under CHOICE’s management, the Mental Health Access Program provided care to 469 individuals over the span of seven years. Over 49 volunteers gave 5,480 hours of their time to help some of the most vulnerable community members navigate the difficult road toward a healthier future. The value of services donated exceeds $740,000.

Connect to Services

Call Shanti Herzog at (360) 359-3346 to receive counseling services through the Mental Health Access Program at The Olympia Free Clinic located at 108 State Ave NW; Olympia, WA; 98501.

About CHOICE Regional Health Network

CHOICE Regional Health Network is a nonprofit collaborative of member organizations dedicated to improving community health in Central Western Washington through collective planning and action of health care leaders. For more information click here.

About The Olympia Free Clinic

The Olympia Free Clinic exists so that low-income, uninsured people in Thurston County have access to cost- effective, quality, acute health care and linkages to appropriate community resources. For more information, click here.


Saint Martin’s University and Japanese Sister School Mukogawa Celebrate 30 Years Exchange Program

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 5:27pm



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

St. Martin's celebrates a 30 year partnership with Mukogawa Women’s University.

St. Martin’s celebrates a 30 year partnership with Mukogawa Women’s University.

Long before international and intercultural exchange activities became  a regular part of life at Saint Martin’s, the presidents of Saint Martin’s University, then a college, and Mukogawa Women’s University in Nishinomiya, Japan, forged a sister-school relationship that is still going strong today.

This summer, the two universities will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their summer cultural exchange agreement, which has enabled students on both sides of the Pacific to personally experience and learn about another culture, language and way of life.

A 30th Anniversary celebration will mark the occasion on August 14 at the Norman Worthington Conference Center.  More than 100 guests are expected to attend the event. Guests will include host families, student cultural ambassadors, visiting students from Mukogawa, and U.S. students.  Hirotoshi Yano, chief professor of Mukogawa’s education department, will be traveling to Saint Martin’s especially for the anniversary celebration.

“Our relationship with Mukogawa is particularly important, as it started the Saint Martin’s tradition of promoting educational partnerships and intercultural exchange with higher education institutions in other parts of the world,” says Josephine Yung, vice president of international programs and development. “It serves as a model of successful cultural exchange that connects people to people, and provides wonderful and exciting opportunities for young people from all over the world.”

Yung says the exchange program with Mukogawa was started in 1984 by then president of Saint Martin’s President John Ishii, Ph.D., Washington state’s first Asian-American college president, and Mukogawa President Akira Kusaka.  Both considered promotion of international understanding and intercultural friendships a crucial part of preparing their students to live and work in an increasingly interconnected world.  The legacy of both presidents lives on, even though both presidents have died.

Each year, about 30 to 40 young women from Mukogawa – most of them early childhood education majors – come to Saint Martin’s for the summer program. Included are workshops and learning experiences, sightseeing, a weekend stay with a local host family, fieldtrips to daycare centers, libraries and other institutions, a cultural celebration – and of course, shopping. They live in Saint Martin’s residence halls, dine in the cafeteria and get to know U.S. students, experiences that give them a window into life in the United States.  Close to 1,000 students from Mukogawa Women’s University have participated in cultural exchange with Saint Martin’s students the last 30 years, Yung said.

What began as a single exchange paved the way for other sister university relationships for Saint Martin’s. The University now has educational and cultural exchange with other Japanese schools, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Northern Ireland, England, France, Italy, Russia and most recently, Brazil.


Common Drugs and Light-Colored Eyes Can Increase Vulnerability to UV-Related Eye Disease

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 3:55pm



Submitted by Dr. Brian P. Finley for Clarus Eye Centre

Dr. Finley May - Clarus Eye Centre

Dr. Brian P. Finley – Clarus Eye Centre

The majority of Americans are unaware that taking common drugs and having light-colored eyes can make people more vulnerable to UV exposure, a contributing factor to certain eye diseases and conditions.

Studies have shown that, in addition to skin cancer, accumulated ultraviolet exposure from the sun can heighten the risk of eye diseases such as eye cancer and cataracts. Intense UV exposure can also cause temporary blindness known as photokeratitis, while extended sun exposure is linked to growths such as pterygiums, which can result in significant vision loss.

To assess how much Americans know about eye health risks posed by UV rays and what people do to protect themselves, the American Academy of Ophthalmology commissioned a national Harris Poll of more than 2,000 adults. The results revealed two major gaps in UV safety knowledge:

  • One-third of adults use medications that may increase photosensitivity, or increased susceptibility to damage from UV rays. However, 49 percent are unaware or do not believe those medications can cause photosensitivity. These photosensitizing drugs include antibiotics containing tetracycline or fluoroquinolones, some birth control and estrogen pills, and certain anti-inflammatory pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).
  • More than half (54 percent) of Americans have light-colored eyes (blue, green, or hazel). Yet only 32 percent of those with light eyes and 29 percent of all polled know light eyes are more susceptible to UV damage. While people with eyes of any color can develop UV-related eye diseases, light eyes and sun exposure are associated with an increased risk of rare eye cancers, such as iris and uveal melanomas.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following tips to protect the eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation:

  • Choose glasses that block 100 percent of UV rays. Use only glasses that block both UV-A and UV-B rays and that are labeled either “UV400” or “100% UV protection.” Don’t go by darkness of the lenses, which doesn’t indicate strength of UV protection. Close-fitting wraparound styles offer the best coverage.
  • Wear sunglasses even if it’s cloudy. Damaging UV rays go through clouds and can burn skin and eyes even when the sky is overcast.
  • Put a lid on it. Wear a hat with a wide brim as well as sunglasses and sunscreen. Studies have shown hats decrease the risk of eye disease related to extended UV exposure.
  • Pills and rays don’t always mix. Certain medications may cause increased sensitivity to sunlight, so take extra precautions if using those treatments.
  • Watch out for sun, sand, and water. When at the beach or in the pool, remember that rays reflected off sand, water, or pavement can burn your eyes.

Wearing 100% UV-protective sunglasses is one of the easiest and the most important things children and adults can do to protect their eye health. It isn’t just about fashion or comfort – it’s about preserving your sight! So make wearing sunglasses a priority, especially if you have light eyes, work outdoors, or take certain medications.



Centro Olympia Traverse Challenges Athletes

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 3:51pm



Submitted by The Port of Olympia

Athletes will bike, paddle, run and trek from Capital Forest to Port Plaza in the Centro Olympia Traverse on July 26. Join the cheering crowd at the Port Plaza finish line to see who comes in first in their division!

Solo, tandem, relay and company teams challenge themselves and one another on a course that highlights the recreational opportunities of the Olympia area. The journey is also designed to celebrate the life cycle of wild salmon through their natural and urban challenges.

The Port is proud to be a partner in the Centro Olympia Traverse. This year the event’s chosen beneficiary is Capitol Land Trust.

12:00 pm: Start at Capital Forest
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Watch at the traverse transitions
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm:
·        Watch the finishers at the Fish Tale Finish Line at Port Plaza
·        Hands On Children’s Museum hosts activities for the Kids of the Traverse
4:30 pm: Awards Ceremony at Port Plaza

Mountain Bike: 7.4 miles in Capitol Forest out of Mima Falls Trailhead
Road Bike: 22 miles from Capitol Forest, through The Evergreen State College campus to West Bay Park in downtown Olympia.
Paddle: 3.5 miles from West Bay Park around Budd Inlet to Swantown Boatworks
Run: 4.5 miles from Swantown out to Priest Point Park and back to East Bay Public Plaza.
Trek: .5 miles by teams from East Bay Public Plaza to Port Plaza.

For the traverse route and other information:

7/23 Music in the Park Concert Moved Due to Weather

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 3:39pm



Submitted by Olympia Downtown Association

Due to the high chance of inclement weather being forecast for tomorrow evening, the performance by Kim Archer Band has been moved the The Washington Center for the Performing Arts located just 1/2 block away from Sylvester Park at 512 Washington St. SE.

The Kim Archer Band will still perform from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. and concert admission remains FREE to the public.

Remember:  Parking is free after 5:00 p.m. in downtown Olympia (excluding Diamond Lots).

Known for her raw, powerhouse performances and personable interactions with her audience, Kim Archer has a large and loyal fan base in the PNW and across the country.  Kim’s music follows in the footsteps of the great female performers like Tina Turner, Melissa Etheridge and Bonnie Raitt.

For more information on Music in the Park click here.

Dr. Louise Boxill at Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine Now Accepting New Patients

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:19am



Submitted by Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine

Born in Barbados, Dr. Boxill is from a family that lives very close to the land, believes in nurturing healthy relationships, and promoting healing by natural means when possible.

She chose to pursue degrees in Naturopathic Medicine and as a Nurse Practitioner because of her desire to serve, listen, teach, and coach women and families to reach their highest health goals and obtain appropriate tools to make informed choices for their own health and the future well being of their respective families and communities.

In her practice Dr. Boxill focuses on full-spectrum Family Medicine.

This includes -

Dr. Louise Boxill - Hirsch

Dr. Louise Boxill

Women’s Health

  • Annual Exams
  • Birth Control Options
  • Gynecologic Issues
  • Menopause, Peri- and Pre-menopausal Issues

Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement



Gastrointestinal Problems


Hormone Balancing

  • Thyroid
  • Adrenal
  • Sex Hormones
  • Homeopathy
  • Medical Acupuncture

When she is not at the office, Dr. Boxill enjoys dancing, singing, cooking, gardening, sewing, knitting/crochet, latch key, arts and crafts, outdoor time, family and friend gatherings, listening and making music, having a good laugh.

If you are searching for a new primary care provider or if you are interested in learning how integrative medicine can help you live your healthiest expression, schedule a free 15-minute meet-and-greet appointment.

To learn more about Dr. Boxill or about our unique integrative approach, go to Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine.


Westport Winery Creates Wave of Hope

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:52am



Submitted by Westport Winery

Kim Roberts and Jeff Kramer the Vice President of Resource Development from Mercy Ships.

Kim Roberts and Jeff Kramer the Vice President of Resource Development from Mercy Ships.

As part of their outdoor sculpture garden Westport Winery has commissioned four new sculptures to commemorate their recently launched line of hard apple ciders benefitting Mercy Ships. All of these sculptures will be installed in the winery’s new Inspiration Garden. The four ciders are named Mercy, Courage, Grace and Hope. This new one acre garden will include many of the Roberts favorite inspirational quotes from such divergent sources as Emerson and Thoreau to Robert Heinlein and Dr. Seuss.

The first sculpture was designed by winery co-owner Kim Roberts and is titled Wave of Hope. “I wanted to create our own version of Tibetan prayer flags in front of our Dune Garden to resemble a breaking wave. We’ve woven high tensile wire through posts to form a modern take on the traditional waddle fence. At our August Aloha Festival we will ask our guests to write their messages of hope on ribbons we’re providing and then have guests tie them on the wire.”

This is not the first interactive sculpture in the winery’s extensive gardens. Last summer a musical fence was installed within their one acre grape maze. It is one of the many features that make this winery a unique destination for all ages.

The Roberts family has commissioned Elma artist Frank Ratte to create a sculpture for Courage, their apple and sweet dark cherry cider. Ratte, who owns Say It Westport Winery CiderWith Cement, has created two other sculptures in concrete for them previously. He first did Night Watch several years ago which is located within the Dune Garden. Last year he designed a Buddha for their Japanese Zen Garden.

North River artist, Sherryl Jackson, was asked to design the Mercy sculpture. Jackson, whose first piece called “Love” is located in the winery’s lavender labyrinth. Her second contribution to the public art display is “The Kiss” in the Formal French garden. She also created a garden cyclist with her Newfoundland in the English Cottage garden.

Jeffro Uitto of Tokeland has been asked to create the Grace sculpture. Uitto has contributed several pieces to the estate previously including a giant clam for Dawn Patrol in homage to the long gone Dunes Restaurant. He also replicated the guitar Kurt Cobain designed for Fender to commemorate the wine called Nirvana. He carved a self-portrait tiki for the Tropical Hawaiian Garden. And he carved the giant Wizard Chess Set in the Knot Garden.

The garden itself will be divided into eight segments with each dedicated to one of the winery’s Eastern Washington vineyards. A traditional Indian Medicine Wheel will be the centerpiece for the garden utilizing rocks from the various vineyards. The Roberts family have enlisted their friend and Cowlitz spiritual leader Roy Wilson to design the medicine wheel.

Tail Grace FrontThe winery’s gardens are open to all ages (and dogs on leash). It is free to tour the gardens. According to Kim Roberts, “We want to develop our gardens to become a destination of distinction similar to Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. We have a very similar climate and we are easily accessible to those from Seattle and Portland, not to mention visitors from other areas.”

Westport Winery and Vineyards By-the-Sea Gardens with the unique sculpture garden, lavender labyrinth, musical fence, 9-hole executive golf course, giant chess set, outdoor scrabble game, and grape maze, is located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. Westport Winery was named Best of the Northwest Wine Tour in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Westport’s award-winning wines are exclusively available at the winery. The tasting room, gift shop, produce market, plant nursery and bakery are open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The restaurant is open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and for dinner on Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information contact Westport Winery at 360-648-2224 or visit the website

Harlequin Production’s Scenes in Progress: Student Showcase

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:30am



Submitted by Harlequin Productions

Harlequin - Youth ProgramThe students of Harlequin Productions’ Conservatory for Young Actors have spent six weeks studying subjects including Scene Work, Voice & Diction, Movement, Monologue, Classical Acting & Rehearsing, Shakespeare, Improvisation, Stage Combat, Costume Design, Set Design, Sound Design, Lighting Design, and more! On July 30, these students will present their final showcase performance: Scenes in Progress.

The showcase will include performances of eight scenes that the students have been working on for weeks, followed by the entire 5 act of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a particularly challenging piece of theater that will demand all the skills they’ve gained in the Conservatory – including swordfighting! Program Coordinator/Instructor Maggie Lofquist and Instructor Christian Doyle describe the showcase as the students’ chance to display the skills they’ve gained during an intensive six weeks of hard work. The event is open to the public and Harlequin is encouraging anyone to attend who’d like to be amazed by the work of the students and cheer them on!

The event begins at 7:00 PM on Wednesday July 30th at the State Theater. It is free to attend but space is limited. Please call the Box Office to reserve your tickets at 360/786-0151.

WHO:        Harlequin Productions

WHAT:      Scenes in Progress

WHEN:      Wednesday July 30th at 7:00 PM

WHERE:    The Historic State Theater – 202 4th Avenue East, Downtown Olympia 98501

PRICE:      Free – call ahead to reserve your tickets (space is limited)

TICKETS:  Call for tickets and info: 360/786-0151 or visit

Harlequin Productions is a professional not-for-profit theater company in Olympia, WA, dedicated to the creation of stimulating and enriching theatrical experiences by producing an eclectic season of new works, “buried treasures,” and unconventional treatments of classics. Through a dynamic selection of extraordinary material, we explore the human adventure in search of theatrical magic that stretches the mind, nourishes the soul, and inspires human empathy.


First Fair Contest Due Dates Approaching Fast

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:24am



Submitted by Thurston County Fair

Home Arts, Preserves, Beverages Due July 21 Several open class contest entries are Monday, July 21 at the Thurston County Fairgrounds. Be sure to get your open class home arts, preserves and beverage entries in for your chance to win!
  • Open Class Home Arts: Monday, July 21 from 3–7 p.m. Let your spectacular sewing, needle art and fiber art do the talking in dozens of home arts contests. Quilt blocks for the 2014 Quilt Block Contest are also due today. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories and requirements.
  • Open Class Beverages: Monday, July 21 from 3-7 p.m. Ales, beers, ciders and wines are all welcome in the beverage contests. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories.
  • Open Class Preserved Foods: Monday July 21 from 3-7 p.m.  Enter your canned fruits and vegetables, pickles, sauces, jams and jellies, vinegars, meats, and dehydrated foods, plus many more preserved foods. Check the 2014 Exhibitor’s Guide for a complete list of categories. Open Class Preserved Foods are also accepted Monday, July 28.
It’s not too late to enter the fair’s new Tattoo Art Contest or to register your collectible treasure for the Antiques Appraisal event. But hurry, the fair’s opening day is almost here!
  • NEW! Tattoo Art Contest on Saturday, Aug. 2 at 4 p.m. Local tattoo artists will be showcasing their incredible skill this year at the fair. The contest on Heritage will be tons of fun with serious prizes—cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in contests for permanent tattoos and temporary tattoos. It’s not too late to enter!—contact Fair Board President Ann Shipley at (360) 791-6086 to learn more.
  • Antiques Appraisal event on Friday, Aug. 1 at 4 p.m. A professional appraiser will entertain and inform with analysis and evaluation of collectibles and antiques provided by local residents. There is no fee to enter an antique or collectible item for appraisal, but all antiques owners must be present at the August 1 event and pay gate admission for the fair. It’s not too late to enter!—contact Fair Board President Ann Shipley at (360) 791-6086 to learn more.

Advisory Posted at Burfoot Park Beach

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 9:21am


Submitted by Thurston County

Beach remains open, but advisory signs posted   Thurston County health officials are posting swimming advisory signs at the beach at the Burfoot Park as a precaution after recent testing showed elevated levels of bacteria in the water. The beach is not closed, but health officials are recommending that people and pets stay out of the water. “We want park visitors to be aware of the situation and use their best judgment about whether they go in the water or stay dry,” said Art Starry, Director of the county’s Environmental Health Division. “The health risk at Burfoot Beach is relatively low for most people, but there is a slightly higher risk of illness for young children and people with compromised immune systems, so we’re reaching out to make sure people can make informed decisions.” Health officials also recommend that nearby beachfront property owners avoid contact with the water until tests show that bacteria levels have dropped. All other facilities and areas at Burfoot Park are unaffected and are open to the public, including the trails, picnic areas and playground. For more information on protecting yourself, your family and your pets from common swimming and water-borne illnesses, visit the county health department’s web page at For more information about wastewater treatment and how the Washington State Department of Ecology protects and monitors Washington’s waterways, visit  You can also get updates from the Washington State Department of Ecology blog called “ECOconnect” at


The History of the Thurston County Fair: Bringing the Community Together Since 1871

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 7:07am



By Gale Hemmann

thurston county fairImagine it’s the year 1871. As you rode to the fair with your family in your horse-drawn wagon, you would probably be excited. This was the first local fair and a big deal. Washington was not yet a state, and the fair aimed to get settlers excited about moving to the area by showcasing the best livestock, industry and other goods Washington Territory had to offer. You could look forward to seeing a poultry exhibit, dancing, and socializing.

Fast-forward to 2014. We enjoy the Thurston County Fair every year for its elephant ears, live music and modern carnival rides. We also still enjoy echoes of earlier days, such as 4-H animal exhibits, crafts, and baked goods. While it may be a popular local attraction (drawing over 30,000 visitors a year), few people know about its long and storied history.

thurston county fair history

Members of the South Bay Girls Canning Club pose with their homemade goods at the fair in the early twentieth century. Photo Courtesy of Ann Shipley

Did you know that the fair has been held in 17 different locations? Or that, in the early days, you could win a ribbon for the “best bowl of oatmeal?” I learned this, and many other facts, by talking with Ann Shipley, the Fair Board President.

A Labor of Love: Unearthing the History of the Fair

Shipley has spent over a decade capturing the Thurston County Fair’s history. She spent ten years researching and writing a book about it, and has a wealth of knowledge on the subject. I ventured out to the fairgrounds to meet with Shipley on a busy pre-fair day this summer.

She’s been involved with the fair since 1976, when her daughter was in 4-H. Shipley has served as a volunteer on the Fair Board for over twenty years. She says a conversation about the fair’s origins sent her searching through decades of microfiche at the local library.

Serving as fair historian has been a labor of love. She says what’s most fun about the project has been all the quirky facts she’s found along the way. She also notes that the fair reflects changes in technology over the years, from the advent of the car to the modern sewing machine.

Shipley showed me around the fair museum, a small building on the fairgrounds that is definitely worth a visit. Among the carefully-preserved items are historic photos and fair ribbons dating back to the 1930s.

So, ThurstonTalk readers, I invite you to enter a time machine with me. Can you imagine being at the fair during each of these years?

thurston county fair history

Live animal exhibits were a huge draw at early fairs. These ostriches were exhibited at the 1913 fair, which was held where the Lacey Post Office now stands. Photo Courtesy of Ann Shipley

Through the Years – Thurston County Fair Highlights:

  • 1871: The first fair is held in the Columbus Building, now the home of the 4th Ave Tavern in downtown Olympia. (You can still see “Columbus Building” engraved above the doorway today.) The upstairs was filled with exhibits of birds and fowl, including Captain Percival’s pet cockatoo. Downstairs, fair-goers could take in agricultural exhibits and dance.
  • 1874: The fair is held at Sylvester Park (then called Town Square). Large livestock arrive for the first time. Entertainment included both horse races and foot races. Captain Percival exhibited his famous cranberries.
  • 1876: In the year the phone was invented, the fair was robust with contests offering cash prizes. You could win the category of “best handmade shoes,” “best two-horse wagon,” or “best collection of canaries.” Reflecting tastes of the period, you could also win “best catsup and chow chow” (a pickled vegetable dish) or “best variety of pickled fish.” Whether it was woolen stockings, bricks, or model ships, the fair had a category for just about everything. Prizes ranged from $1.00 for “best crochet shawl” to $2.00 for “best display of candies and confections” to $5.00 for “best collection of grain.”
  • 1879: A newspaper advertisement tells us that you can enjoy a “grand display” on the “superb fair grounds near Olympia.” You are promised “trials of speed” by horses over “one of the finest race courses on the West Coast.”
  • 1881: After a decade of construction, the first fairgrounds were completed, where the Tumwater Safeway now sits.
  • 1882: A baseball tournament is held with cash prizes. An ad boasts that “ample provision has been made for the display of mechanical handiwork, farm products and livestock.”
  • 1884: The fair is held in Chehalis, and will be the last fair held for over a decade.
  • 1891-1901: No fair is held locally. Local residents sent their wares to be judged at bigger fairs in Seattle, Tacoma and Portland.
  • 1912: The same year that the Titanic sinks, the Washington chapter of 4-H is established, which will be a staple of the fair for over a century to come.
  • 1913: Everyone’s focus is on World War I. The fair is held at the site of today’s Lacey Post Office, where the Wonderwood Track once stood.
  • 1926: The Thurston County Fair is back after over a decade of hiatus. It is held in Tenino, where it will stay for several years. In 1927, the fair closes with a wedding ceremony for a local couple.
  • 1937-1946: During World War II and its aftermath, it is difficult to hold a fair, but 4-H groups hold camps at Millersylvania State Park and local schools instead. The fair is renamed “Harvest Festival.” The official fair is back in 1946.
  • 1956: With Elvis topping the charts, the 1956 fair was held at the South Bay Grange. A newspaper advertisement boasted that the fair would have “253 animals” on display and “rides for the children.”
  • thurston county fair history

    This fair advertisement from 1960 cheerfully entices fair-goers with promises of many animals and exhibits. While times have changed, these two elements of the fair have remained popular. Photo Courtesy of Ann Shipley

    1957: The fair concludes with an “all livestock parade,” which is a huge hit – there were over 630 4-H entries.

  • 1958: The fair is moved to its current location near Long Lake, where it has been ever since.
  • 1964: The fair builds the innovative new Cloverleaf Building. Shaped like a four-leaf clover, the building is unique but presents many architectural challenges, and is soon dismantled.
  • 1970: During the year the Beatles disbanded, the food court was built on the fairgrounds. A pet porcupine escaped an exhibit and was not found.
  • 1970s: A highlight of the fair during this decade was the landing of a hang-glider on the fair grounds. The fair board voted to purchase a then-high-tech adding machine for the fair manager.
  • 1976: In honor of the United States Bicentennial, the play 1776 was performed twice at the fair.
  • 1983: The Miss Thurston County pageant was held on Opening Day at the fair.
  • 1990s: During the decade of the internet’s rise, the Horticulture Building is added to the fair and the Horse Arena is updated. A layered cake contest is held.
  • 2000s: In 2003, “Pocket Pets” are added as a new 4-H animal category. Dog exhibits are gaining popularity, and a “homemade dog biscuit” category is featured one year. The new air-conditioned Expo Hall is built.

Bringing the Fair into the Modern Age

As the Fair staff and volunteers ramp up for the 2014 fair (July 30-August 3), they have both traditional and modern points of interest planned for you.

Shipley notes that it is an exciting challenge to bridge the traditional and the new, and to keep appealing to new segments of the community. This year, alongside the classic 4-H exhibits and rides, you will also find a first-ever tattoo contest. There will also be an “Author’s Corner” showcasing local writers and a “bee-friendly garden.”

thurston county fair

The Thurston County Fair has featured rides such as the carousel since at least the 1950s. Though there weren’t cell phones with cameras then, the children’s delight has no doubt remained the same. Photo Courtesy of Thurston County Fair

So, as you take in the fair this year with your friends or family, take a moment to step back in time in your imagination. Enjoy browsing the museum, and the chance to discuss this piece of local history with kids (or just impress friends with your knowledge). You can learn more about the fair’s history here, and by purchasing Shipley’s book, Memories: The History of the Thurston County Fair.

Shipley notes that the fair would love to gather even more photos and memorabilia from past fairs for their collection. If you have any items of interest, you can contact the fair office.

A sign that the fair is thoroughly in the modern era? You can check out their website or “like” their Facebook page.

Thurston County Fair – “Fun for the Whole Herd”

July 30-August 3, 2014

At the Thurston County Fairgrounds

Get information about admission here and view the daily event calendar here.


Your Healthcare Connection: Lisa Bowling Creates a Caring Community at Oly Ortho’s Physical Therapy Clinics

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 6:22am




oly ortho

The youngest of 10 kids, Lisa Bowling grew up in Spokane, Washington, learning the ropes of health care with her father who was a physician.

Olympia Orthopaedics Associates is well known throughout the South Sound as a comprehensive provider of musculoskeletal care.  Essential to that service are the large, state-of the-art physical therapy clinics housed at their Westside and Eastside Clinics.  Since early March, those clinics have been under the experienced direction of Lisa Bowling, PT.

Bowling is a Washington native who grew up in Spokane, Washington, the youngest of 10 kids.  Her mom stayed at home keeping things running for the big family while her father saw patients as a physician.  The family relocated to California in Bowling’s sophomore year and it was then her interest in Physical Therapy began.

“During my high school years, in 1979 specifically, I began working in the field partly with my dad in his clinics and in nursing homes,” Bowling shares.  “I knew I had an interest in the medical field early on, but I didn’t have a name for it. It wasn’t until my mom gave me a book written by Joni Eareckson, an autobiography of a swimmer who broke her neck resulting in paralysis/quadriplegia, that the field of physical therapy was defined to me.  Reading about the process Joni went through, how she progressed through her therapies and became a successful artist, writer inspired me to want to be part of this process.”

During aptitude testing done in high school, Bowling’s career path came up either teacher or physical therapist.   “Well, you do both when you are a physical therapist,” she realized and her career path was born.   Her interest blossomed into formal training at California State University, Northridge where she graduated in 1988.

oly ortho physical therapy

Lisa Bowling brings 36 years of experience to Oly Ortho as a physical therapist.

Bowling’s experience over the years has taken her through a variety of clinical and non-clinical settings.  Most recently, she spent over 11 years working with injured workers. She has done subcontract review work with LNI. Prior to moving back to Washington, Bowling worked in Georgia with a neurology practice as director of their associated rehabilitation center.  She also owned her own practice, working with local California orthopaedists.  These multi-disciplinary settings gave her a wide breadth of knowledge in the varied types of physical therapies patients may need.

Returning to Washington in 2000, Bowling settled her family in Olympia.  OOA knew her experience would be a good fit for the position of Rehabilitation Services Director when it came open last year.  “Throughout my career, I have always worked very closely with doctors and it was something that was missing in my past jobs,” says Bowling.  “I did that with my dad and other work experience, and it’s what I’ve always loved about being a therapist.”  The inclusion of physical therapy clinics within the Oly Ortho locations facilitates this close relationship, one that is valued by Bowling and patients alike.

“Working with doctors who are excited about what they do and want to teach is amazing,” she shares. “Even after 36 years in the field, it’s pretty exciting to feel like you are always learning.  That was the main draw here.”  Additionally Bowling sites the potential to grow the clinic, serving the wide variety of departments at Oly Ortho, as a big reason for her interest in joining the group.

When asked what her favorite part of being a physical therapist is, Bowling doesn’t hesitate.  “It’s my clients.  I love taking care of people and educating them.  The ability to educate and empower someone through their own rehab and on their own journey back to health and function is such a boost for a therapist.  Helping reduce their pain and their restrictions – honestly is kind of a rush,” she shares with a smile.

Bowling and her team look at each patient as a puzzle.  With 36 years in the field, she has seen enough to say with confidence that she has “never seen the same thing twice. The uniqueness and what happens with each individual body during recovery keeps my interest piqued.”

oly ortho physical therapy

For Lisa Bowling, Life in Motion means teaching people better movements to lead a full life.

Currently, Bowling is doing some client care but as the new director her day-to-day work is more administrative.  Her role will develop towards education of clients in pre-operative care as well as some post-operative needs. While she does miss the patients, she knows that the behind the scenes work is invaluable to the care the fifteen therapists on staff deliver each day.

The Westside clinic now has a new Hand Therapy Center, serving patients with three hand therapists and an assistant; partnering with the talented hand surgeons at OOA. Five physical therapists work in the West Olympia clinic and six work at the Eastside clinic on Lilly Road.  Bowling oversees both areas, travelling between sites.

“Olympia Orthopaedics is unique in that there is so much direct contact with the doctors.  Their want and desire to work with us, and our ability to literally walk over and talk to them to clarify an issue or get direction, makes a huge difference,” Bowling explains.  Additionally, she cites a dynamic partnership among all physicians and therapists, moving toward using meaningful descriptors to define standard protocols of care, producing quantifiable outcomes for patients and ultimately consistent healing.

Bowling is committed to the Olympia Orthopaedics goal of getting patient’s Life In Motion. “What we do in physical therapy is completely based on motion,” explains Bowling.  “Life in Motion to me is not only helping people deal with the pain and fearfulness that comes with injury or surgery, it’s teaching them better movements – preventative care and adaptability.  Injuries can leave residual effects, emotionally and physically.  We help them find satisfaction and a full life.”


Scott Rowley & Erin Pratt – Friends with Olympia Area Rowing, Competitors during Olympia Traverse

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 6:00am



By Tom Rohrer

oly ortho logoMost people agree that a friend will be there to help, whenever needed. A friend supports decisions and choices, even if they challenge their comrade along the way.  But some friends will go to great lengths to defeat each other in competition, no matter how close the relationship has been over a number of years.

For longtime buddies Erin Pratt and Scott Rowley, the line between friend and competitor is blurred.

The best friends met as ninth graders at Hoquiam High School.  Now Olympia residents, the duo competes with Olympia Area Rowing as teammates but will compete against each other in the fifth annual Olympia Traverse on Saturday, July 26.

olympia traverse

Scott Rowley will be competing in his fifth Olympia Traverse race. He will row for the paddle leg. Photo credit: Jo Arlow.

Both Rowley and Pratt are undertaking the rowing portion for their respective four-member relay teams, the perfect platform for a showdown in the water.

“It’s a healthy competition,” said Rowley.  “You know you’re friends more than anyone else in the field, so of course I want to beat Erin.”

“There’s another gear added to the competition,” Pratt added.  “You’re pumped up already for an event like this, but seeing your buddy, that adds some more motivation.”

Rowley began rowing as a college student, later taking a break from the sport during dental school and the early years of his marriage.  Since taking a sculling class four years ago, Rowley has been a member of the Olympia Area Rowing Masters Team.  A year and a half ago, he invited Pratt to take the very same class.

“He had the right body type and (OAR) is always looking for new blood,” said Rowley.  “It’s been awesome having him there, just a great guy and a great teammate.”

“Everyone in the club and (the local) rowing community is very encouraging and they share knowledge with you,” Pratt said. “Everyone’s looking to see you improve.”

Last summer, Rowley and Pratt got their wish for a relatively head-to-head competition.  While Pratt’s cycling teammates gave him a little bit of a head start over Rowley, the five time Olympia Traverse participant closed the gap at the end of the 3.5 mile leg near Swantown Marina.

“I started a little ahead, but turning around, I could see him coming up,” said Pratt. “That put some more energy in my stroke.”

olympia traverse

Erin Pratt was introduced to rowing by his close friend, Scott Rowley. The duo rows competitively with the Olympia Area Rowing masters team. Photo credit: Jo Arlow.

“Just being able to see each other throughout (the stage), that was pretty awesome,” Rowley added. “We wanted that measuring stick so to speak and we were right there.”

The waters around Budd Bay have long had a choppy and challenging reputation within the OAR and local rowing community.  Last year, the winds blew south-to-north on the water, creating quite a unique set of circumstances for the Olympia Traverse rowers.

“You’re heading east and the winds are completely crossing you up,” said Pratt.  “It’s a challenge.  You’re trying to move forward, stay on course, all of that at the same time.”

Thanks to their consistent training with the Saturday morning group at OAR and on the rowing machine, the two friends can handle whatever the weather throws their way.

“There are few ideal days out on the water around there,” said Rowley, who has competed in the Bellingham Traverse as well.  “You get used to the choppy conditions, the wind.  For us, it’s normal.”

For many athletes such as myself, the best part of completing a physically challenging event is the finish.  A competitively friendly event such as the Olympia Traverse naturally has a beer garden at the conclusion of the race, a perfect rendezvous point for the wary competitors.

“It is 35 to 40 minutes of straight rowing,” Pratt said. “You’re exhausted after you finish, so obviously, all you want to do is get on land and relax.”

olympia traverse

A quad, which includes Rowley and Pratt, glide through the water during an Olympia Area Rowing practice. Many team rowers will be on the water during the Traverse. Photo credit: Jo Arlow.

“That is the enjoyable part of the Traverse,” said Rowley of the post-race social event. “You can talk to other competitors and just relax as friends.”

Rowley earned yearlong bragging rights after last year’s Traverse.  A year later, the competition continues to drive Pratt and Rowley.

“All I really care about is beating Scott,” laughed Pratt. “I just want to beat him.”

“I just started getting back into shape last week.  I imagine Erin is probably training, so I better get started,” Rowley said with a sudden pause.  “I would say more, but I can’t let Erin know all my secrets.

For more information on the Olympia Traverse, which will be held on Saturday, July 26, click here or visit the event’s Facebook page.


Fungi Perfect at the Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 6:00am



By Alyssa Ramsfield

lacey mushroom festival

There will be plenty of fun with fungi for the whole family during the 2014 Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival.

Mushroom enthusiasts from all over the globe will gather at Lacey’s Regional Complex Center July 26 – 27 for the seventh annual Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival. This year, the Hawks Prairie Rotary presents the culinary event with two days packed full of chefs, speakers, food, and fun with one goal…to enjoy fungi perfection.

“Every year the festival gets bigger,” explains festival co-chair, Corey Lopardi. “I’ve met people from as far away as England who made it out to enjoy the event. Every year we try to add more to satisfy so many people. We have a lot to offer our community this year.”

The fungi festival begins on Friday evening with a 5k Glow Run. The 5k race features four glow zones and festive glow items. “We added a kids run for ages 10 and under that will include glow water,” says Lopardi. “We even have Party Medics DJ playing music and food available after the run.”

On Saturday, children ages twelve and under are welcome to the Kid Zone.  Admission is free for these kids, making the festival the perfect place to take the entire family. The Kid Zone includes Radio Disney at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, The Sounders Women Soccer Team, a fishing booth, Ronald McDonald, bounce house, balloon animals, and alpacas!

lacey mushroom festival

Line up to sample mushroom ice cream or bacon mushroom bites from savvy local chefs.

The featured speakers are one of the main event highlights. “These are people known for their vast knowledge of mushrooms,” describes Lopardi. Some of the experts hitting the stage include KING 5’s Ciscoe Morris, instructor Tom Keller, Christian Kaelin of Provisions Mushroom Farm, and author Langdon Cook.

Despite all this excitement, the focus of the Mushroom Festival is the food. Cooking demos from some of the best chefs around will be spotlighted all weekend long. There is also plenty of food to sample. The “Shroom Feast” features some of the best culinary offerings around. Just $10 will buy you seven tastings. Mushroom ice cream and Bacon Mushroom Bites are just two of the tantalizing offerings available during the feast.

The Mushroom & Wine Event is a major fundraiser for Hawks Prairie Rotary. For $25, guests will sample seven tastes and receive a commemorative wine glass. Beverages, including selections from Scatter Creek Winery, Hoodsport Winery, Stottle Winery, Stina’s Cellars, Mill Lane Winery, Northwest Mountain Winery, Kastellan Brauerei, and Top Rung Brewing  will be paired with delicious mushroom hors d’oeuvres. Live music and a silent wine auction will also be part of this main event.

“The best part about the Mushroom Festival is what happens afterwards,” says Lopardi. “All of the money raised from the weekend helps local causes. Every dollar in profit is turned around and invested back into our community.” Some of these worthy causes include: The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Homeless Backpacks, Hawks Prairie Heroes, education scholarships, clean drinking water projects, and worldwide polio vaccines.

The Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival is so much more than an event to highlight mushrooms. “It’s a completely volunteered event,” explains Lopardi. “My favorite part of the whole weekend is when someone thanks me for putting it on. It gives a lot of families the opportunity to go out and enjoy what our community has to offer.”

To have fun with fungi, check out the 2014 Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival July 26 and 27 at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.  Complete event details can be found at


Gile Blueberry Farm Offers Flavor and Fond Memories

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 6:00am



By Katie Doolittle

dkb restorationThe ghosts of summers past haunt Gile Blueberry Farm. Ken Gile, the current proprietor, can readily recall the long-ago days when crowds of neighbors and school children hired on as summer berry pickers. Everyone’s bare feet would turn black and itchy from roving all day over the meticulously tilled earth. Back then, people picked for a nickel a pound, working towards their daily minimum of 20 pounds apiece. It’s how many local kids earned money for their school clothes. “I always got fired,” Ken admits. “I was kind of terrible. But it would only last a couple of days and then I’d get sent back to the field.”

gile blueberry farm

Ken and Marie are two of Claude Gile’s eight children. They currently operate Gile Blueberry Farm.

The farm, says Ken, was his father Claude’s dream. Originally from New York, Claude Gile moved to the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s. He paid $500 for his first two acres of land. “This was all brush and trees way back when,” explains Ken. “Dad was a longshoreman and when there were no ships in he’d bring a crew over and they’d clear the brush by hand.” At that time, Claude paid his fellow longshoremen 15 or 20 cents an hour for their labor.

After a brief stint of blackberry farming–which was soon deemed too troublesome–Claude switched to blueberries. As the baby of the family, Ken doesn’t remember much about the early days of the farm. However, he can still recall the labor shortage they experienced during the Korean War. Claude solved the problem by hiring a company of soldiers from Fort Lewis. “That was quite a time,” Ken chuckles. They had a mess hall for the military blueberry pickers, and “there were always G.I.s trying to sneak off to town for a drink or two.”

Claude and his wife Laura had eight children: Juanita, Leon, Tiny, Marie, Jean, Betty, Ann, and Ken. At one time or another, everyone was somehow involved in the farm. Marie shares her memories with dry humor: “I was a row boss, riding my broom through the fields and telling them to pick their berries clean.” She took on her leadership position around age 14 and didn’t miss a single season until she was married. “And then I made the kids go out and pick berries,” she reminisces.

gile blueberry farm

The Gile Blueberry Farm intermixes its varieties. Berries on different plants will ripen at different times.

Marie and Ken both agree that their father Claude was quite particular in his expectations of pickers. He demanded meticulous attention to detail and “was kind of a tyrant about no berries on the ground.” When he blustered too much, the family would banish Claude to the house. He’d then hover in the dining room (which offers an excellent view of the fields) and bang on the windows if he saw subpar workmanship.

Throughout the 1950s, Claude took his berries up to the Sunny Jim plant in Seattle. Ken says, “He used to run the old Dodge up there, sometimes twice a day… which was a fete in and of itself.” Later, Claude joined forces with other local farmers to form the Producer Marketing Company (PMC). This cooperative effort was located in Mossy Rock. Until 2006, PMC processed local blueberries and then sold them to companies such as Smucker’s.

When Claude died in 1965, brothers Tiny and Leon split the farm. Ken took over Tiny’s portion in 1993, which is when the Giles first instituted U-pick.

Ken appreciates how U-pick offers berry lovers a chance to tailor purchases to their individual palates. “You can eat on the different bushes until you find one you like,” he says. He estimates that the property currently boasts 30 to 40 different varieties, if not more. “There are a lot of varieties that you probably can’t get anymore,” he says. Plants and their fruit evolve as farmers seek to improve berry yield, size, and taste. Yet some of the bushes on Ken’s property trace back a full century; they began as cuttings from Eberhardt’s on Steamboat Island, which some sources say was the first blueberry farm west of the Mississippi River.

gile blueberry farm

U-pick is open in late July at Gile Blueberry Farm.

Come for a taste from a bygone era and you’ll also see some old-style farming. The Giles planted their fields before modern irrigation practices grew widespread. And in contrast to the current common practice, the plant varieties on their farm are intermixed to promote cross-pollination. It means that berries in a single area ripen at varying rates, rendering large scale machine-picking impractical. Consequently, Gile berries get picked by hand. Ken describes the current pickers as “a senior citizens’ crew of six to eight.” Not surprisingly, that crew includes his sister Marie.

Want to enjoy the fruit of their labor? It’s $2.25 for pre-picked berries. But I recommend trying out U-pick or, at the very least, taking a walk around this beautiful old farm. The land and the people are well worth a visit!

Gile Blueberry Farm will open the week of July 21st for the 2014 season. Hours are 8:00am to 6:00pm. Updates and contact information can be found on the farm Facebook page.