Seafair attendance down 30 percent without Blue Angels

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SEARFAIRSEATTLE — It is Seattle’s premier summer event and it draws people from all over the state and beyond for outdoor fun and entertainment at its best.

“It’s a huge deal, parades and festivals and queens being honored.  It’s a great festival and it’s international,” Seafair lover John Woodward said.

“Folks across the country know about Seafair.  This is the Mardi Gras of Seattle or the Kentucky Derby festival of Seattle,” Seafair C.E.O. Beth Knox said.

The event itself was just as grand but this year, of course, something was missing; The blue angels that have been a big part of Seafair for years until sequestration put an end to their shows all over the country.

“There’s no question people missed the Blue Angels and me included,” Knox went on to say.

Instead festival goers were treated to the patriots’ airshow and for some that was more than enough.

“These are as good as the Blue Angels.  They’re a little slower so you can actually watch them a little easier,” Airshow watcher Keith Stobie said.

Without the Blue Angels, attendance was down considerably, just 115,000 compared to last year’s 158,000 and the logboom, usually sold out, was just 80% full this year.

And it’s not just the event itself, its impact on the local economy is also down.

Mioposto restaurant in Mount Baker is just a few blocks from the lake.

It usually gets a big boost in business during Seafair, but Sunday there are few customers and a lot of empty tables.

“We staffed accordingly and ordered extra food, had everyone ready to go and I think this year because of the low attendance we didn’t get the volume of customers we were hoping to get,” Mioposto assistant manager Precious Butiu said.

Most everyone hopes the Blue Angels will return next year but if they don’t, as it did this year, organizers say, Seafair will go on.

“We’re looking for a new routine coming up and our hope is that next year, of course we’ll have the Patriots back but we also hope to have the Blue Angels too,” Knox said.

Seafair officials say they expected attendance to be down about 25 percent without the Blue Angels, but the Patriots airshow was great and the Hydro racing was fantastic.

The hope is that things will return to normal next year.


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  • Guest

    I don't believe anyone can really blame the low attendance entirely on the loss of the Blue Angels.

    When I used to attend the event I found the noisy pointless appearance of the jets made no sense and were just a loud annoyance brought in as a distraction between the races which were impossible to follow without a TV set anyway.

    If I want to see planes I go to an air show not a boat race.

    I prefer to believe that society as a whole is growing up.

    We are recognizing that pointless events that are only fun for a large percentage of attendees after fueling up on alcohol are no longer okay.

    Drinking and driving and boating and driving are becoming a no longer tolerable side effect of large gatherings.

    If Seafair fades away I don't believe it will be missed much by any reasonable people.

    Seafair is an event that's time has passed.

  • guest

    The Blue Angels are not the reason for the decline. It has more to do with the crackdown on drinking and driving/boating. Most people arrive Friday's on the log boom and start drinking. And with the new BUI law in place I am sure that stopped people from showing. Families are tired of the outlandish drinking on the shores that they stayed away and watched on TV where you can see the entire race instead of the 100 feet of the race when the hydroplanes are directly in front of you.