Grab your chairs, coolers and sunscreen and head to the Columbia River this weekend if you want to see some high-speed action on the water and in the air.
It's time for the annual Tri-Cities Water Follies festival, now in its 49th year, and the HAPO Columbia Cup unlimited hydroplane races, which are July 25-27 at Columbia Park in Kennewick.
The three-day event features two days of river racing that includes unlimited hydroplanes, as well as other types of boats. July 25-26 are qualifying races, with the big finale July 27.
The park opens at 8 a.m. each day and closes at 9 p.m. Viewing areas are set up along the shoreline on the Franklin County and Benton County sides of the river. There's no entrance fee July 25, but you'll need a ticket for July 26-27.
There's a kids zone and a slew of food and beverage kiosks scattered throughout the park, as well as along the Pasco side of the river.
Getting into the park
The main entry into Columbia Park is from Highway 240. Pasco viewing areas are designated between Road 36 and 54 off Sylvester Street.
All vehicles and coolers will be subject to a search upon entering Columbia Park and the Pasco viewing areas. Items that are prohibited are all weapons, squirt bottles, super soaker squirt guns, glass items, skateboards, scooters and golf carts.
Pets and alcohol also are not allowed in the park during Follies events. However, beer garden kiosks will be set up at various locations on both sides of the river.
Memorabilia, first aid
There also will be vendors selling memorabilia, and hydro drivers will hold an autograph session at noon July 25 at the stage near the Playground of Dreams.
Red Cross mobile units will be available on both sides of the river for anyone requiring medical attention.
The weather forecast for the weekend is for temperatures to be in the 90s, so sunscreen, plenty of water, hats, lawn chairs, blankets or umbrellas are encouraged.
New to Follies this year
New to the Follies this year is an appearance by the Air National Guard Mobile Experience on July 26-27, which offers a taste of military life for civilians.
The experience provides an opportunity to participate in simulated challenges that replicate real-life experiences of Air Guard men and women during basic training, said Cassie Sullivan, a public relations representative with the Air National Guard.
Those experiences include three challenges to test your electronic, medical, mechanical, observational and spatial aptitudes while honing surveillance skills, physical strength and agility. The mobile training center is at the east end of Columbia Park from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 25-27.
There is no cost to participate, but visitors will have to pay the admission fee to the park.
Historic, mini hydros
The roar of the World War II V-12 piston engines is back on the shores of the Columbia River this year with the Legends of Thunder historic hydroplane exhibition.
Vintage thunderboats from the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum, based in Kent, will perform a series of exhibition heats that older race fans may remember from the original Atomic Cup races, which first came to the Tri-Cities in the 1960s.
There also will be a series of radio-controlled hydro races held at the fishing pond at the east end of Columbia Park. See the schedule for race times.
A full schedule of events is at www.waterfollies.com.
Fun for kids
The kids zone will feature entertainment with bounce houses, crafts and face painting, as well as Big Top the Clown shows, which are from 9 to 10 a.m. July 26-27. Spiderman also will make an appearance from 1 to 3 p.m. July 26.
The kids zone is north of the Playground of Dreams at the east end of the park.
The HAPO Over the River Air Show features an Alpha jet, Air National Guard MX-S, the USAF Heritage plane, Douglas DC-3, the T-33 Shooting Star and TF-51 Mustang jet.
Also performing for the air show will be the Misty Blues, a group of all-women skydivers who use wing suits.
The air show starts at 11:30 a.m. July 25-27.
Special needs area
The Sunrise Rotary will have a special needs area designated for the disabled at Columbia Park only. The area is specifically for those with disabilities, which includes those who are wheelchair bound or have physical or developmental disabilities. One caregiver per person is allowed.
This designated area will have a shaded tent, cooling misters, water and ice, private restroom facilities, a shuttle service and Rotary volunteers on hand to provide assistance.
There is no admission fee to Columbia Park on July 25 but there is a $5 parking fee. Parking fees are $10 for July 26-27.
In Pasco, there is no parking fee July 25. but there is a $5 fee July 26 and $10 on July 27.
General admission for July 26 is $15 for adults, $5 for kids 6-12 and free for ages 5 and younger. On July 27, admission is $25 for adults and $5 for kids 6-12.
A two-day pass for July 26-27 is $25 for adults or $10 for kids 6-12.
Pit passes also are available for an additional $10 each day or $45 for three days. The pits are where the hydroplanes are moored when not racing, which is at the east end of the park near the blue bridge. There is no smoking in the pit area.
Tickets are available at Tri-City Albertson's stores or the Follies office at 621 N. Gum St., Suite A, Kennewick. Tickets also are available at the gate.
Ben Franklin Transit will provide shuttle service to and from Columbia Park, leaving from transit centers in Richland and Kennewick.
Cost is $1.50 each way for one person and $4 each way for a family of five. Seniors and the disabled pay 75 cents each way with a transit identification card.
The bus service departs the transit centers at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. July 26-27. The drop-off and pick-up area will be the same at the east end of Columbia Park.
The final bus leaves the park 15 minutes after the final events of the day July 26-27. There is no bus service to the Pasco viewing side.
Dial-A-Ride reservations must be made by noon July 25 for a ride to the park on July 26-27. For Dial-A-Ride reservations, call 735-0160.
For more information, call 735-5100.
Art in the Park
And for those who'd rather do some shopping in the shade of big trees, you can head over to Howard Amon Park in Richland for the Art in the Park sidewalk show.
Hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 25 and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 26. Admission is free.