Mermaid Fest Draws in Large Crowds to Yelm City Park During Summer Heat Wave

By Jacob Dimond / jake@yelmonline.com
Posted 8/2/22

Between 1,500 and 2,000 people turned out to Yelm City Park for the third annual Mermaid Fest on Saturday, July 30.

The Mermaid Fest coincided with the ongoing Yelm Summer Farmers Market, which …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Mermaid Fest Draws in Large Crowds to Yelm City Park During Summer Heat Wave

Posted

Between 1,500 and 2,000 people turned out to Yelm City Park for the third annual Mermaid Fest on Saturday, July 30.

The Mermaid Fest coincided with the ongoing Yelm Summer Farmers Market, which created a packed day of events for residents.

“I survived the Mermaid Fest and I’m surprised with how large the turnout was given the heat,” said event organizer LaDonna Shea-Hockaday, who is also known as Lady L, after the event took place. 

Temperatures rose as high as 99 degrees in Yelm during the festival.

Shea-Hockaday spent most of the day at the Mermaid Fest working inside of the kitchen at the Yelm Community Center, as she prepared nachos and lemonade among other foods and refreshments, but she made her way to the city park for the pageant.

“When I was able to go outside, I saw the big attendance at the show. The pageant and the dunk tank both went really well, and the kids loved it,” she said. “Having the splash pad available was a big hit too with it being so hot. I felt like that went hand in hand with the heat.”

The pageant was originally supposed to span three separate start times, but the blistering heat changed the plans.

“We didn’t want to keep everybody waiting in the heat, so we figured we’d speed up the process (significantly),” Shea-Hockaday said. “The pageant was absolutely beautiful, though. All the entrants did a fantastic job.”

Shea-Hockaday expressed appreciation for the judges of the mermaid pageant, which included Yelm city councilmembers Holly Smith and Terry Kaminski, as well as former Yelm city councilmember EJ Curry. Natalie Ames, the founder of the Mermaid Fest, was also on the judge’s panel.



“I really want to thank the judges for their help and cooperation throughout the entire day,” Shea-Hockaday said. “The heat was rough throughout the day, and you guys stuck with us for the pageant. We all appreciate that.”

She also thanked the City of Yelm as a whole, the city council and the citizens for supporting the events she puts on.

“Without them, these events don’t happen,” Shea-Hockaday said. “I’m very appreciative.”

While attendance numbers were down from the past iterations of the event, Shea-Hockaday was happy with the turnout. She hopes to dodge the potential of hot weather next year by putting the Mermaid Fest on in June.

For next year’s event, Shea-Hockaday hopes to feature a “pool of mermaids” at Yelm City Park so attendees have more photo opportunities. The beloved dunk tank and face paintings will both return next year, too.

Up next for Shea-Hockaday and Lady L promotions is the “Heroes Festival” on Saturday, Aug. 27, which will occur at Yelm City Park. She said the festival came to fruition when a homeless man in Yelm began cleaning the streets “every night for free,” according to Shea-Hockaday. She wants to honor the man and other “heroes” who deserve recognition in Yelm.

Those heroes can come from all walks of life. They can be servicemembers, veterans, students, pharmacists or anyone who is deserving of recognition, Shea-Hockaday said.

“Anyone who is a hero in our town deserves to be recognized. We aim to honor those whose hard work may go unnoticed at the festival,” Shea-Hockaday said.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here