Slices of watermelon on blue wooden desk.

Summer in the Tri-Cities is magical; the days are long and the temperatures high. Our local community takes full advantage of the season, hosting several spectacular festivals and art shows during the summer months. Most popular among these occasions are three large events highlighted in this spotlight, which offer the perfect opportunity to meet new people while experiencing the spirit of the city. People from throughout the state travel to the Tri-Cities in order to enjoy these annual festivities that consistently prove enjoyable for all ages.

Cool Desert Nights — Richland Uptown

A summertime tradition that transforms the quiet streets of Richland into a living, breathing automobile museum, Cool Desert Nights has been operating annually since the early 1990’s. It is an open event (anyone can enter to participate), showcasing classic cars, hot rods, motorcycles, and custom vehicles owned by collectors from the area. The Uptown Shopping Center serves as the epicenter of this automotive celebration, though it’s not unusual for the festivities to overflow into the nearby Jefferson Park and beyond. Classic cars are visible throughout the Tri-Cities during this festival weekend. Major nearby thoroughfares are closed to traffic, serving instead as walkways for people to flock and see these mechanical marvels.

Art in the Park — Howard Amon Park

If classic cars aren’t quite your cup of tea and you prefer more non-automotive forms of artwork, the annual Art in the Park festival is calling your name. Taking place in Howard Amon Park along the Columbia riverfront, independent artists from the Pacific Northwest set up stalls to show off and sell their various works. From handmade wind-chimes and kites to jewelry and paintings, there is a seemingly endless variety of artistic odds and ends available at this festival. With hundreds of individual vendors, the park fills to capacity with row after row of tents, transforming it into a village-sized flea market of sorts. A few food carts set up shop in the park, serving the fairgoers and vendors with delicious, locally sourced meals, making Art in the Park a (ful)filling experience for the whole family. 

The Water Follies — Columbia Park

Every summer since 1966, the Tri-Cities has hosted the annual Water Follies, a weekend full of activities centered around water sports on the Columbia River. Initiated by an annual air show (which is outstanding in its own right), the main event of the weekend’s festivities is a series of  H1 “heats”, in which sponsored hydroplanes race around an oval-shaped track in the river, fighting for the coveted Columbia Cup. Hydroplanes — sometimes called Thunderboats — are extremely fast, lightweight, motorized racing boats that use the forces of lift to push the hull upwards when the vessel is moving forward. This process, in addition to the light overall weight and powerful engine, is what allows these boats to attain their break-neck speeds. Massive crowds gather in riverfront parks throughout the Tri-Cities in order to catch a glimpse of the races. 

Whether you are new to the Tri-Cities or have lived here your entire life, there is always an authentic, entertaining experience to be had during summertime events in our community. 

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