Celebrate Bainbridge July 1st-4th: 4 Days of Events on Bainbridge Island including the Rotary Auction and the Grand Old 4th of July

GO4th Poster by BHS Senior Michael BirkheadWe’re just a month away from the kickoff of the Celebrate Bainbridge weekend and its finale – The Grand Old 4th!

Here’s a first look at this year’s official GO4 poster, and a quick peek at all events and start times to help you plan:

Friday July 1 

  • 5pm: Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island Auction & Rummage Sale Preview (Woodward Middle School)
  • 5pm: First Friday Art Walk (Downtown Winslow)
  • 5pm: Moonlight Market (Town Square at City Hall)

Saturday July 2 

  • 8am: Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island Auction & Rummage Sale (Woodward Middle School)
  • 10am: Farmers Market (Town Square at City Hall)Celebrate Bainbridge Island 2022

Sunday July 3 

  • Noon: Stars & Stripes Old Timers’ & Alumni 3rd of July Baseball Game (BHS)
  • 5pm: Bainbridge Creative District Launch (Rock at the Ravine Stage)
  • 6pm: Bainbridge Island Downtown Association’s Street Dance (Winslow Way)

Monday July 4 – The 55th Annual Grand Old 4th Celebration 

  • 7am: BHS Boosters Club Traditional Pancake Breakfast (T&C Parking Lot)
  • 9am: Bainbridge Youth Services Fun Run (Winslow Green)
  • 9am: Car Show (Columbia/Chase Parking Lots)
  • 9am: Street Fair (Bjune Drive and Brien Drive)
  • 9am: Kids Zone (Waterfront Park)
  • 10 am: Live Music Stage featuring Soul Siren & other local acts
  • 11am: Beer & Wine Garden (Waterfront Park)
  • 1pm: The Grand Old 4th Hometown Parade (Madison Avenue and Winslow Way)

Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this year’s fun! Applications for the Street FairCar Show and Hometown Parade are all open now.

Visit the GO4 page at the Chamber website to apply today

A LITTLE HISTORY: Prior to World War II, the Island’s biggest event was the Strawberry Festival, held each June. However, the unfortunate interment events that sent our Japanese-American neighbors away, many of which were prominent in our local farming community, ended that festival, and although many tried to revive it after the war, it was never the same.

Almost two decades passed before a new summer festival/event would take hold. In 1967, the late Arnie Jackson, an eccentric longtime local, 45-year Volunteer Firefighter and local businessman, got together with the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce (he was also a member of the BICC) to organize the first Grand Old 4th celebration. With the help of Kiwanis volunteers, they built 10×10 booth frames that various vendors could rent from the Chamber to use on the parade route, which ran down the center of Winslow Way.

The parade and celebration started off small as our population at the time was less than 2,000 residents—the running joke back in those days: “it’s a good thing that people come from other communities to watch, because everyone who lives here is in the parade…”  Vicki Rauh, longtime Chamber staff and licensing agent remembers that back in the 1970s, “the parade was so short it went around twice”.

In 1991, when the entire island was incorporated into the City of Bainbridge Island, the new city government had concerns about safety issues in regards to having both the vendor booths and parade route on the same street. It was then decided to move the street fair portion of the event to Bjune and Brien Drives, which also allowed more use of Waterfront Park as part of the celebration.

Today our island boasts a robust population of more than 26,000 residents, and although many of those residents use the holiday weekend to vacation elsewhere, the traditional pre-pandemic Grand Old 4th celebration drew crowds from near and afar, an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 attendees enjoyed the event in 2019.

A few fun FAQs:

What made Arnie Jackson so eccentric? Arnie was a unique man with an incredible ability to get people motivated. He was fondly remembered as “Growly” and could be seen zipping around the parade route on his Honda 80 motorcycle, decked out in an American Flag vest, barking orders to everyone and anyone (although, the majority of the work and organization in those days was handled by the Kiwanis Parade Marshals).

Where did that amazing poster come from? In 2017, the Chamber of Commerce began their Grand Old 4th Poster Contest, the contestants must be students from any of our public and private elementary, middle or high schools. This year they received more than 50 local entries, congratulations and $500 go to (BHS Senior) Michael Birkhead as the 2022 winner of the Grand Old 4th Poster contest. In addition, honorable mentions go to 5 other talented finalists: Isiah Tweitan – 15, Abigail Huck – 14, Kieran Markham – 13, Romy Greer – 11, and Margaret Taylor – 10.

Why are the politicians always at the back of the parade? No, it’s not because we don’t like them…many of our politicians participate in several 4th of July events all over the county and need time to get from one event to the next. Giving them the “finale” float allows them time to get to us and participate in the parade.

Can you really “save your seat” the day before the parade on the route? We’re a small community and we respect each other, so yes, bring a chair (and we mean just about any chair: lawn, dining, beanbag, you name it, or just a nice blanket) and stake out your spot-on July 3rd, and don’t worry, it will still be there when you arrive on the 4th!

Bainbridge Island Grand Old 4th logo 2022

Rotary Auction of Bainbridge Island 2022 logoThe Grand Old 4th of July is produced and presented by the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce, with the help of hundreds of volunteers and a handful of loyal sponsoring businesses.

All events are being responsibly planned with all appropriate safety considerations in mind.

*Logos, images and information provided by and used with permission from the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce

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