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Originally published Wednesday, June 15, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade welcome summer to 'Center of the Universe'

Solstice Parade, June 18, and Fremont Fair, June 18-19, 2011.

Seattle Times staff

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The Solstice Parade and Fremont Fair welcome summer with a big, Fremont-style party this weekend. A local favorite since 1972, the fair celebrates the summer solstice (the longest day of the year and official first day of summer, Tuesday) and the quirky spirit of Fremont, the self-proclaimed "center of the universe."

Saturday's Solstice Parade gets the party off to a rollicking start with nude and/or body-painted bicyclists that ride the route before the official Fremont Arts Council parade, which celebrates the personal expression of art with no written words, animals or motorized vehicles.

Fair highlights include music showcasing local bands on four stages, arts and crafts from hundreds of vendors, beer gardens, a wine garden, food vendors and events at neighborhood bars and restaurants.

The Seattle Art Car Blowout, the largest gathering of art cars in the Northwest, displays them in their embellished glory at 35th Avenue North and North Evanston Street. For a special treat, watch Sunday for a caravan of art cars that will leave from the Sodo neighborhood at 10 a.m., traveling via the Alaskan Way Viaduct, then over Queen Anne Hill and across the Fremont Bridge to the fair.

All ages are welcome at the fair, with programs for kids including the Fremont Abbey Arts Kids Area. If you're concerned about nudity, note that the nude/body-painted fairgoers are primarily seen in the Saturday pre-parade bicycle ride.

Sunday is Dads & Dogs Day, inviting all to celebrate Father's Day and bring your dog for a pup procession at 2:30 p.m., with costumes encouraged.

More than 100,000 people are expected to attend, including large crowds for Saturday's parade. Parking in the area is extremely limited and some streets are closed for the event.

The details

Solstice Parade: Noon Saturday, following North 36th Street, Fremont Avenue and North 34th Street, from Third Avenue Northwest to Gas Works Park. Register online or at the parade staging area at 9 a.m. Saturday to participate.

Fremont Fair

Time: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, beer gardens open until 10 p.m.; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

Cost: Free; donations collected.

Location: Main activities in area west of Fremont Avenue North on North 35th Street and North 34th Street/Canal Street, Seattle. Maps and programs at information stations at Phinney Avenue North and North 35th Street, and Evanston Avenue North and North 34th Street.

Getting there: There are no official fair parking areas, and parking is extremely limited. Bicycle corrals at First Avenue Northwest and Canal Street. Metro Transit information: 206-553-3000 or tripplanner.metrokc.gov.

More information: www.fremontfair.org.

Madeline McKenzie: 206-464-8245 or mmckenzie@seattletimes.com

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