The year 1960 was a big one for the City of Lake Stevens. It was the year that Lake Stevens officially became a city, the Lake Stevens Journal printed its first newspaper and it was also the first year Aquafest was held.
The sites and sound of Aquafest have changed drastically in the last five decades and the celebration is going to be bigger and better than it has ever been before.
Let’s take a look back at the beginnings of this community wide celebration.
Prior to 1960, Mitchell’s Pharmacy was at the center of the downtown Lake Stevens community. Located on Main Street in a two-story building across from City Hall, the pharmacy was a hub of sorts where folks could sit up to the soda fountain and enjoy the company of those who happened to walk in.
In 1960 things changed when Jim and Nancy Mitchell moved their pharmacy to the other side of the lake and into Frontier Village, taking with them two doctors, the dentist and the town’s bank.
“People in downtown Lake Stevens were angry with me for leaving them out in the cold,” Jim Mitchell said. “In an effort to save the lake and its identity, they decided to establish a celebration and that was Aquafest.”
Addison Shoudy not only started the Lake Stevens Journal but also owned the grocery store downtown and was instrumental in getting Lake Stevens incorporated as a city.
When the pharmacy moved, Shoudy decided that promoting the lake would be beneficial to the future of the downtown area.
“Mr. Shoudy was the father of Aquafest you would say. In order to save the town, he and his friends including Fred Cushman, decided to save the town,” Mitchell explained.
Back in those days, Lake Stevens was considered the Waterski Capital of the World so Aquafest started out as a waterski competition and has evolved into the weekend of entertainment it has become today.
There have been a few years in the past 49 years that the Aquafest festivities didn’t take place, however, due to the efforts of many throughout the community in the past 50 years, Aquafest has survived and is now a weekend that the community looks forward to all year round.
Aquafest 2009 will include the original Waterski Tournament but will also host annual favorites as well as new events for the 49th year’s “Rush to the Gold”.
“This year’s celebration will be enhanced with activities and events sure to appeal to people of all ages. In addition to the return of our Tennis Tournament at the high school, we are thrilled to announce two events new to this year’s Aquafest,” Aquafest President Michael Friend said. “Try Rowing, sponsored by LSRC, is your opportunity to see if rowing is for you and a co-ed softball tournament with a promisingly fun-filled celebrity softball game will take place on Sunday, July 26.”
This year’s Aquafest has teamed up with KRKO Radio of Everett to bring Jeff ‘The Fish’ Aaron to kick-off Aquafest on Friday. Aaron will also be participating in the first annual Celebrity Softball Tournament on Sunday afternoon.
Aquafest is a great opportunity to get out into the community, play with your neighbors and showoff your skills at the many sporting activities available all weekend long.
“Mark your calendars, post an invitation on Facebook, Twitter your friends and plan on attending this year’s celebration. We look forward to seeing you there,” Friend said.
To sign-up for sporting events or find more information on Aquafest visit their website at www.aquafest.org.