A tractor joins the patriotic fun at the Lopez Island Fourth of July parade.
The Independence Day festivities on the San Juan Islands are legendary, covering the three main islands and lasting the entire long weekend. Orcas Island stretches the country’s birthday over three days, with free fireworks at the Deer Harbor Marina (376-3037, deerharbormarina.com) on July 3 and a classic festival of old-time games, live performances, and historical readings on the Fourth. Festivities continue on July 5 with a community parade through Eastsound village (376-2273, orcasislandchamber.com).
Roche Harbor on San Juan Island hosts quirky contests—think doughnut eating, logrolling, and blindfolded dinghy racing (378-2155, www.rocheharbor.com). On the other side of the island, visitors to Friday Harbor can whistle along with patriotic parade tunes before chowing down at the Pig War Picnic and getting down at Rock the Dock (378-5240, sanjuanisland.org/4th-july). Lopez Island offers its own village parade on July 4 (468-4664, lopezisland.com/4thjuly.htm).
No matter where you spend the Fourth of July, it won’t be hard to find fireworks. Come nightfall, striking displays illuminate the sky above Orcas’s Eastsound, Lopez’s Fisherman Bay, and both of San Juan’s harbors.
- Music in the Park July 6–Aug. 31. Stretch out on the waterfront lawn to hear live, local music on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Fairweather Park, Port of Friday Harbor Marina, 378-2688, portfridayharbor.org.
- Teddy Bear Picnic July 16. Bring the little ones for an afternoon of sing-alongs, sweet treats, and cuddly teddies. Appearances by life-size Mr. Bear have been a highlight for more than 30 years. Lopez Island Library, 2225 Fisherman Bay Rd., 468-2265, lopezlibrary.org.
- Olga Daze July 19. Islanders flock to this decades-old festival to star in a parade through town and get a taste of famous bake-sale maple bars. The year’s highly coveted Olga Quilt is raffled off. Olga Park, Olga Road, 376- 2273, orcasislandchamber.com.
- San Juan Island Lavender Festival July 19–20. Highlights include bouquet harvesting, cooking demonstrations, and lavender-based treats such as lemonade and ice cream. Pelindaba Lavender Farm, 45 Hawthorne Ln., 378-4248, pelindabalavender.com.
- Encampment July 26–27. Salute the peaceful agreement reached by Americans and Brits some 150 years ago after their countries set aside Pig War hostilities. Reenactments of 19th-century military life include the firing of a howitzer and a Saturday night Candlelight Ball. English Camp, San Juan Island National Historical Park, West Valley Road, 378-2240, nps.gov/sajh.
- Eastsound Fly-In & Antique Car Show Aug. 1–3. Fly into Orcas Island and pitch a tent right under the wing of your plane for an aviator’s dream weekend, with biplane rides and dozens of antique vehicles on display. Orcas Island Airport, Schoen Lane, 376-5285, portoforcas.com.
- Family Art Days Aug. 9–Sept. 27. This weekend workshop series in the orchard leads kids and adults through creative projects from tie-dying T-shirts to constructing dream catchers. San Juan Islands Museum of Art, 540 Spring St., 370-5050, sjima.org.
Photography courtesy of Ann Palmer
This article was first published in June 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.