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Meeker Days to usher in summer in Puyallup

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Tacoma's biggest festivals – Freedom Fair, Taste of Tacoma, Art on the Ave – are still weeks away. Right now, all eyes are turned towards Puyallup in search of a little fun in the sun.

Next week, Meeker Days will take over several blocks of the city's downtown – a section bordered on two sides by Main Street and Third Street SW – for three days of music, dance, libation and more. The free, family festival – named after pioneer Ezra Meeker, Puyallup's first mayor – will go on from noon to 9 p.m. June 17 and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 18 and 19.

“It's one of the biggest events in the South Sound,” said festival manager Jennifer Robinson, who expects anywhere from 100,000 to 135,000 locals to show up for Meeker Days' three-day run. “It's been going on for 77 years, and it's a huge community festival that a lot of people enjoy attending.”

“It's been going on for 77 years, and it's a huge community festival that a lot of people enjoy attending.”

Among next week's biggest attractions will be four stages of live music: the Muckleshoot/Northwest Stage Main Stage, the Community Stage, the BECU Rotary Stage, and the Ezra Meeker stage, the latter in its new location near City Hall to improve festival acoustics and traffic flow.

Performing on those stages will be a cross-section of local indie-rock acts, cover bands and at least one living legend. South Sound staple Jerry Miller was ranked No. 68 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2003 and is best known for his time with Moby Grape. He'll play at noon June 19 on the Community Stage.

Other acts include the Fun Police, who will bring their raucous blend of punk, country and Latin music to the BECU Rotary Stage at 8 p.m. on June 17; classic garage-rock act, The Adventures, at 4 p.m. June 18 on the Main Stage; and Sumner outlaw country act Colt & The Peacemakers on that same stage at noon June 19. It's also not too late to sign up your own group to compete in the Battle of the Bands, which will be held from noon to 3 p.m. on the Main Stage on June 18.

Many will grab a nosh between bands, and new this year will be a tequila and taco garden, featuring scrumptious street tacos and frosty margaritas provided by Fiesta Taqueria & Tequila bar. “They have phenomenal food – great street tacos and fantastic margaritas. I don't think you'll get a better margarita in town (and) they're a local merchant. They own this in town, and they also own Karma of India on South Hill.”

There will be loads of kid friendly activities for families that have little people in tow, including face painting, interactive games and bouncy houses in the Kid Zone. Kids can learn to catch their own fish in the Trout Pond (actually at 10- by 20-foot galvanized fish tank). And there will be plenty of family acts shuffled in with all those rockers on the performance stages, from the Clay Martin Puppets to Reptile Man.

Noticeably missing this year, though, is the Little Miss Meeker competition, a pageant for girls ages 6 to 9. The event was scheduled to return this year after going on hiatus in 2015 but had to be canceled. “We put it out there, but we didn't get a lot of response as far as applicants,” Robinson said. “But we're going to try again next year.”

Find a full schedule of performers, Battle of the Bands criteria, directions and more online at www.puyallupmainstreet.com/events/meeker-days.

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