Olympia Harbor Days has a new title sponsor, as the Squaxin Island Tribe has stepped forward to present the three-day festival.

Held annually on Labor Day weekend for 44 years, Harbor Days— an Olympia Kiwanis Club nonprofit event — is notable for its vintage tugboat races, with proceeds from the festival going toward the Kiwanis Club’s community youth programs. The partnership with the Squaxin Island tribe is somewhat appropriate, given the tribe’s maritime history as “The People of the Water” and its strong cultural connection with Budd Inlet.

“The Squaxin Island Tribe brings a rich cultural history with strong community connection and diversity to the festival”, said Carol Riley, executive director of the festival. 

Members of the tribe including Ray Peters, Tribal Council Liaison; Charlene Krise, Executive Director of the Squaxin Island Museum; and Leslie Johnson, Director of Squaxin Island Tourism;  are working with Riley on plans to bring tribal elements to the festival, including an opening blessing and closing ceremony in Lushootseed, the native language throughout most of western Puget Sound. 

This year’s festival dates are Sept. 1-3.