Smells Like – Miss Budweiser
The 53rd annual Seafair Festival has come and gone, and except for some lingering Monday morning hangovers being dealt with by a significant percentage of the local population, we’ve survived the yearly paean to waterborne excess relatively well.
Seafair, for you non-natives, is a sort of odd amalgam of civic boosterism, retro nostalgia, military homecoming, noise, drunkenness and revelry – a controlled bacchanalia for a city that normally prides itself on its reputation for being staid, stoic and well, a bit boring. Part Mardi-Gras, part neighborhood festival, part near-religious adoration of all things fast, loud and smelly, it is probably unique in the sense that it’s neither fish-nor-fowl, a completely made-up event that connects the city, however tenuously to it’s blue-collar, industrial and seaport roots, while conversely giving the newbies one more thing to look down their overly long noses at, all the while tut-tutting to themselves that, “the (Insert name of local civic festival) is much better than this!”. It’s Seattle’s old-school way of celebrating the impending demise of summer, and if it seems a tad corny or hokey to the more sophisticated tastes of Californians or a bit excessive to the even more conservative tastes of Midwesterners, well so be it. It’s our festival dammit, and we’ll celebrate it as we please.
Now, with all this you might get the impression I’m a big Seafair fan – far be it. I haven’t been to a Torchlight Parade since Annex Theatre closed shop on 4th Avenue along the parade route about three years ago, and haven’t been to the hydro races (the crowning event for the Festival) since I was an undergrad in college. But, there’s still something sort of infective about the whole atmosphere that surrounds Seafair. Even if you never set foot on one of the flotilla of naval vessels that arrives the week prior, even if you cringe a bit whenever one of the U.S. Navy “Blue Angels” F-18 Hornets flies by your office window at eye-level, even if you couldn’t tell a log boom from a sonic boom, or have no idea who Stan Sayres was, or why old folks around here still mention the name of Tex Johnston with hushed reverence, if you let yourself be caught up in the giddy mid-summer hoopla that is Seafair, you can’t help but bust out in a goofy, lopsided grin.
Because that’s what Seafair is really all about: a chance for us reputedly provincial, uptight, superficially-friendly-but-secretly-resentful, gortex-encumbered Seattleites to let down our hair a bit, expose our pale bodies to the warmth of the sun and inhale deeply of the aroma of burning flesh (both human and animal), sunblock and jet aircraft fuel.
It smells like – home.
on 11:59 AM