Skip to main content

Originally published August 4, 2013 at 8:24 PM | Page modified August 4, 2013 at 9:45 PM

  • Share:
  • Comments (94)
  • Print

Attendance during final weekend of Seafair dips

Attendance at Seafair was down 27 percent this year, partly a result of the absence of the Blue Angels. But some longtime Seafair attendees say the event was in decline even before that.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
Maybe no one goes because it isn't as much fun anymore. You cant raft 3-4 deep on the... MORE
I remember growing up on Beacon Hill in the 70's - a good number of miles west of Lake... MORE
27% someone is greasing the numbers......The log boom wasn't even filled.......Parking... MORE


Drawn year after year by the hydroplane races, Arthur Rosengren has been one of the Seafair faithful for more than six decades.

In recent years, however, the Seattle resident has noticed a gradual decline in the number of people attending the final weekend events on Lake Washington — even before budget constraints dropped the popular Blue Angels from this year’s lineup.

Weekend attendance this year was down 27 percent — from 158,000 last year to 115,000 this year, Seafair officials said, citing the lack of the Blue Angels as a main cause.

Rosengren and other self-described Seafair old-timers believe competition from other summertime events, less promotionand a lack of interest by younger residents and newcomers are also factors.

“People my age simply aren’t coming,” said Rosengren, 71, who walks the mile or so from his home in the Mount Baker neighborhood. “There are few people I can converse with about the races.”

Allen Senear, who also has been attending Seafair for decades and who in the past 15 years has given hydroplane-pit tours to groups of attendees, said, “The old guys who were coming here 20, 30 years ago are dying off or simply can’t make it down here anymore.”

The weekend’s decline was also evident in the fewer boats tied to the log boom, the popular floating party in the middle of the lake, where in past years boats were rafted three- or four-deep. The log-boom spots usually sell out, officials said, but only 80 percent were occupied this year.

There also appeared to be fewer house parties near or along the lake.

To be sure, Seafair weekend is still a popular draw, and on a hot Sunday afternoon thousands were enjoying the weather along with the jaw-dropping performances from stunt planes, the hydro races and other activities on the water.

While some people, like Rosengren, see it as a sporting event, with the hydroplane races as the centerpiece, others see it as outdoor summertime fun. “This used to be the big event of the year,” Senear said. “Every TV station used to cover this. Now you can hardly get information on qualifying sessions.”

Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or On Twitter @turnbullL

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon



Celebrate that amazing NFC win with a poster or tee shirt featuring The Seattle Times Jan. 19 front page. Order now!


Partner Video


The Seattle Times Historical Archives

Browse our newspaper page archives from 1900-1984

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►