Guide to the Rainier Valley Heritage Parade & Festival Weekend

by Antonio Foster

South Seattle’s 24th annual extravaganza known as the Rainer Valley Heritage Parade & Festival kicks off this Saturday.  This year, the Rainier Chamber is partnering with Parks and Recreation’s Big Day of Play and SDOT’s Summer Parkways; turning the whole Valley into huge party of home grown entertainment, athletics, games, food, music and fun.

Sprawling over an entire weekend and spanning several South End neighborhoods, the festival will see Rainier Avenue’s streets closed down for a parade, and car show. Its sidewalks house beer gardens, pie eating contest, fencing,  giant chess tables, and its alleys flooded with musical acts, art installations, and poetry exhibits.  Saturday will also bring the “Big Day of Play” to the Rainier Community Center and Playfield, where the young and young at heart can scurry around obstacle courses, and learn the Ndlamu dance, while nearby parks host picnics and ice cream socials.  


Bike riding is encouraged south of the Parade/Fest and Big Day of Play.  After Dawson, you can ride your bike to Hillman City for the Car Show and carnival fun, then continue on the Summer Parkway’s path over to Brighton Park and down to Othello Park.

On Sunday afternoon the Rainer Valley will show off the multitude of ethnicities housed in one of the nation’s most diverse zip codes, when the Othello Park International Music and Arts Festival commences with food, games, and dancing.  The weekend finishes off later that night when Columbia City transforms into a musictopia for its monthly Beatwalk, bringing an eclectic mix of bands performing in shops, allies and restaurants around the neighborhood.

Just how much fun can be jam-packed into one weekend in South Seattle? Plenty.


Saturday, August 13


What: Rainier Valley Heritage Parade

Time: 11am-12:30pm

Where: On Rainier Avenue from Brandon and Alaska Streets

The day kicks off with an amazing array of homegrown talent that will delight parade goers with Buffalo Soldiers on their horses as the lead!  With more than 60 entrants, this event brings out the best of South Seattle! Plus, at the end, everyone in attendance is invited to join in the grand finale: The “Love Train” dance chain.


What: Rainier Valley Heritage Festival

Time: 12:30pm-4:30pm

Where: On Rainier Avenue between Dawson and Alaska Streets

As the parade passes by and the festival booths are setting up, you can join the traditional Pie Eating Contest!  Music, Food, Games, Sports, Art and Poetry, Activities, Car Show, and Beer Garden will take place right on Rainier Ave. Columbia City and Hillman City’s side streets will also be transformed into entertainment hubs. This year’s festival will feature art, dance, and food from: Ethiopia and the Philippines.

The Parade and Festival is a Seafair Community Event: Rainier Valley Culture Fest Weekend, which continues on Sunday at Othello Park.


What: UNCF Walk, Bike, Run

Time: 11:00am

 Where: Othello Park (4219 S Othello St, Seattle, WA 98118)

The UNCF Seattle Walk, Run, Bike for Education is a broad-based community fundraising event in which corporations and organizations can sponsor/underwrite and/or individuals can recruit family members, friends and co-workers to participate in this non-competitive walk/run/bike to raise much needed funds for UNCF. Everyone who believes that “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”® should come out and invest in better futures for our young people—college degrees. UNCF currently supports more than 600 students from the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. The 5K walk/run/family bike ride will start at Othello Park in the Rainier Valley neighborhood of Seattle.  Register here


UNCF BBQ Cook-Off and Kids Happy Hour

Time: 1:00pm-4:00pm

Where: Othello Park (4219 S Othello St, Seattle, WA 98118)

The seventh annual UNCF BBQ Cook-Off features amateur grill masters who will compete in a BBQ Cook-off to earn the title of “2016 UNCF Cook-off Grill Master” and a brand new BBQ grill. Participants will compete in four BBQ cook-off heats that will consist of preparing hamburgers. The top two winners from each heat will compete in one final round heat preparing the “secret ingredient”. Each heat will have a panel of judges made up of local prominent community leaders, celebrity chefs, and celebrity athletes/coaches.

During the Cook-Off, UNCF Seattle will host the Kids Happy Hour, where free turkey dogs and sliders will be available for kids under 18 years of age. Kids and adults can also compete in a fitness challenge and bike rodeo to earn prizes. Register Here


Big Day of Play

Time: 12:00pm -6:00pm

Where: Rainier Playfield and Community Center 4600 38th Ave. S, Seattle WA 98118

Big Day of Play offers exciting obstacle course inflatables, rock climbing wall, cultural music and dance presentations, dance workshops, and sport exhibitions for all ages! Discover the athlete in you while enjoying the sounds, smells and foods from a range of communities. Big Day of Play is a celebration of our City’s diversity and encourages neighbors, communities and families to have fun, build relationships and be active together. The day to play your way!


What: First Annual Hillman City Classic Car Show- in- Shine

Time: 12:30pm-4:30pm

Where: Rainier Avenue (Between Lucile and Orcas)

The cars of yesteryear parade down the streets of Hillman City at the first annual Hillman City Car Show-in-Shine.  In addition there will be music, puppy adoption, and kid’s games.  This event is presented by the Hillman City Business Association in partnership with Classic Swagger Car Club.


What: City Scoop

Time:  1:00pm-3:00pm

Where: Rainier Avenue S. between Hudson and Brandon Streets

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods invites you to CityScoop, a fun way to share your ideas with City staff and enjoy a free ice cream as well. The City has important topics where we need your input, so we invite you to relax in our tents, provide us your feedback, and enjoy a free treat courtesy of Full Tilt Ice Cream.


What: Picnics in the Precinct

Time: 1:30pm – 4:30pm

Where: Columbia Park

Picnics in the Precincts are fun activities we hold every year that provide an opportunity for the business and residential communities in each of Seattle’s five precincts to come together and enjoy a day of celebration with their local police. They are great opportunities for people to be introduced to the department in a relaxed, non-law enforcement environment, meet their local police officers, enjoy free food, entertainment and raffle prizes, and get information on how to get involved in preventing crime in their community.


Sunday, August 14


What: Othello Park International Music and Arts Festival

Time: 12:00pm to 6:00pm

Where: 4351 S Othello Street Seattle, WA

Come out for food, fun and festivities that reflect the wonderful Rainier Valley community’s diverse cultures. We’ll gather in a grassy meadow under big, old trees at the 10th annual Othello Park International Music and Arts Festival. A world of ethnic variety will convene with: music, dancing, food, and art activities.

Visit the array of tents and booths and sampling Rainier Valley’s colorful diversity of businesses and organizations. One large tent on the green will shelter the Festival’s traditional “Art Creation Station” to engage those young in age and young at heart, in a variety of hands-on visual art activities led by local artists. Come and join the fun!


What: Columbia City Beatwalk

Time: 6:00pm to 10:00pm

Where: Various venues in Columbia City

Columbia City’s monthly live music series puts a cap on the weekend with performances by Wayne Horvitz, John De Rocco Trio, Hoadly Three, Salsa Sur, Casita Afro Cubana and many more. The Royal Room, along with several other venues, and alley ways in Columbia City will play host to the bands.



2 thoughts on “Guide to the Rainier Valley Heritage Parade & Festival Weekend”

  1. We would love for you to post our Jazz event at the Southeast Seattle a Senior Center’s Indigo Room on this Sunday!!

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