WAC member Michelle Rudd leads summer’s best festival

For so many Seattleites, summer means Seafair.

By Mae Jacobson, Associate Editor | Photos courtesy Seafair

Michelle Rudd WAC Member
Michelle Rudd atop the WAC Clubhouse (Photo: Anita Nowacka)

Pirates, parades, and boat floats come together with hydroplanes, aerial displays, and plenty of funky fun to make Seafair synonymous with summer. But Seafair, which celebrates its 69th year in 2018, is also so much more.

The 10-week summer festival is the most visible aspect of Seafair in our community. What many people donít realize is that Seafair also gives back to Seattle in some special ways, supporting dozens of community events and focusing on inclusivity and affordability.

As a proud partner of Seafair, the WAC recently sat down with Seafair Board Chair and WAC member Michelle Rudd, senior vice president and wealth advisor at Wells Fargo Private Bank, to find out more about Seattle’s favorite festival.

Seafair puts on great events all summer. In your words, what is Seafair all about?

Connection! Our theme this year is “Inclusive.” We want to bring people together. All the different neighborhoods in Seattle make our city great, and everyone celebrates
summer differently.

How is Seafair focusing on that theme?

Seafair events bring together different people and neighborhoods that contribute to Seattle’s diversity. We support over 35 community events where people can get outside and get together with their neighbors, families and friends. From the Seattle Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow at Daybreak Star Cultural Center to the Seafair Magnolia Summerfest, there’s something for everyone. We also extend that reach and influence beyond summer with things like the Seafair Foundation.

Many people think of Seafair as a summer festival. How does the Seafair Foundation extend your work?

The Seafair Foundation focuses on the underserved youth in our community. I am proud that the Wells Fargo Foundation supports the Seafair Foundation Scholarship Program for Women and the high school ambassadors program. We have a range of high school ambassadors that spend the summer connected with Seafair and our related groups. Then the high school ambassadors get to go to Seattle’s sister city in Kobe, Japan, where they stay with a family with kids their age and represent Seattle. What’s been really exciting is that some of our participants have come back to take on significant leadership roles in the community and with Seafair. Once you’re in our Seafair family, you’re here to stay.

What’s different about this year’s Seafair summer festival?

As a 69-year-old organization we want to honor tradition, but we also have some great new events planned. They’re not all announced yet … but we are really striving to include music in everything. This summer is also exciting because Seattle is hosting the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.  We’re looking forward to honoring some of our local athletes in this year’s Torchlight Parade.

Tell us about the WAC–Seafair relationship.

If Seafair had a Clubhouse, it would be the WAC. The WAC has been a tremendous partner to Seafair by hosting our board meetings, receptions, and events. We share a lot of values. The same things that attracted me to the WAC attracted me to Seafair. We’re both about creating opportunities that bring people together and make our city a better place.

What’s your insider tip for WAC members who want to enjoy Seafair this summer?

Book a room for the Torchlight Parade! You can walk to our celebrations in Westlake Park and not have to battle traffic. There will be over 100 parade floats, music, horses, drill teams, and more. You can also book a room for Seafair Weekend and take transit to Genesee Park. Who knows, maybe you will meet a Blue Angels pilot at the WAC!

Do you have any favorite Seafair memories?

Growing up, my mom, Sandie Walker Walz, was a Navy Public Affairs Officer at Submarine Base Bangor near Bremerton. Every year, we would host Navy men and women for Seafair Sunday on the log boom. We’d be out there on the Navy barge with bleachers, surrounded by beautiful yachts, hydroplanes, and the Blue Angels. That hooked me. Also, when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2014, the city of Seattle asked us to produce the celebration parade. I think that shows how Seafair is recognized and trusted as the go-to partner for celebrating Seattle.

Seafair photo gallery

—Mae Jacobson is associate editor of WAC Magazine. Reach her at mjacobson@wac.net.

As published in the July/August issue of WAC Magazine.

—Posted July 10, 2018

More Features

How to do … anything
We mean business
‘I do’ … the sequel