Outings + Activities | Travel | Family fun

The Samish Bay Bivalve Bash: Good Dirty Fun for Kids

The Samish Bay Bivalve Bash Low Tide Mud RunLooking to run amok this summer? Well, how about in the muck? Voted as the best summer event by Skagit Runners, the Samish Bay Bivalve Bash’s Low Tide Mud Run isn’t one to miss — even for those who just enjoy watching all of the muddy fun from shore.

Held each July outside of Bellingham at the Taylor Shellfish Samish Farm in Bow, this year’s ninth annual bash benefits Skagit Conservation Education Alliance’s clean water education programs. The bash boasts family-friendly events throughout the day, but many folks come early to participate in the morning Mud Run (a 250-yard run for adults and a 100-yard race for kids) when the tide is at its lowest,

Although 250 yards — a little over two football fields in length — may not seem like a long run to most, even the most experienced of marathon runners who find themselves caught knee-deep in the mud will tell you that this run is serious business. However, they’ll also admit there’s a reason they come back every year to slog through what is regarded as the “Northwest’s toughest foot race.” In a nut (or oyster) shell, it’s a heck of a lot of messy fun.

Two-time Mud Run winner Marti Riemer-Reiss and her 10-year-old daughter, Annika, are well aware of the Mud Run’s challenges. For first-time racers, they warn: Bring an extra change of clothing, try to stay light on your feet and most importantly, tape your shoes on so they don’t fall victim to the thick, low-tide sludge. For the younger runners, Annika adds, “Remember that the after-race hose is really cold.”

Beyond the morning’s mucky fun, the Bivalve Bash provides plenty of summer “edutainment” throughout the day — including a “crabtucky” derby, a touch tank and kids’ beach, face painting, muddy tug-o-war, oyster shuffleboard, a shell-shucking competition, live music with dancing and the world’s only oyster shell sculpture competition (with cash prizes!).

The Bivalve Bash’s food alone is well worth the day trip north. The festival’s menu is packed with fresh seafood, including barbecued salmon, steamed Manila clams, a fresh oyster bar and more. Kid-friendly summer favorites such as hotdogs, fresh corn on the cob and raspberry shortcake are also served for tots who aren’t so keen on shellfish. And after a morning spent tramping through the mud, a hot plate of steamed mussels and fresh corn may be just what you need to regain your energy for an afternoon filled with dancing, crafts and good old-fashioned low-tide fun.

Jen Betterley is ParentMap’s Web editor.

If you go…
The Bivalve Bash takes place at the Taylor Shellfish Samish Farm in Bow, WA. The entry fee is $5 per person; kids under six and mud runners are free. (The Mud Run is $15 per adult and $5 per child.) Pets and coolers are not allowed onsite, but food and beverages are available all day, for extra purchase.

Getting there: All parking is free and offsite, located at Blanchard Chapel and Edison School; parking shuttles run every 15-20, with the last bus leaving the farm at 5 p.m. Driving directions from Seattle and Bellingham are available at bivalvebash.com. Bicycle parking is available onsite.

Where to stay
Camping: Both Larrabee and Bay View State Park are nearby, though spots can fill up quickly; reservations are recommended. Further information can be found on the Washington State Parks website.

Staying indoors: Visit Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism and Skagit Valley Tourism Group for motel, hotel, B&B, inn and working farm lodging recommendations.

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