Once upon a slime, in the beautiful forest just outside of Eatonville, banana slugs slowly roamed the grounds of Northwest Trek Wildlife Park … and they still do!
Since its first festivities in 1983, guests to Northwest Trek have kept the annual Slug Fest event sluggin’ along, celebrating the greenish-yellow banana slug year after year.
This year, the tradition returns from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 30 and July 31.
“It’s the slipperiest, slimiest, and wackiest event in the Northwest,” Northwest Trek Education Curator Craig Standridge said. “We’re delighted to keep this long-standing tradition of celebrating slugs alive.”
Why does Northwest Trek have this zaniest of festivals? Well, people who have ever hiked a Northwest forest, know Washington's slugs are among the biggest and best — especially the banana slug. But they're also vital to the ecosystem, breaking down organic matter and returning it to the forest floor, where it becomes food for our plants and trees.
“Banana slugs are more than mucous, slow-moving creatures,” Standridge said. “They are incredibly beneficial to the environment and help increase the quality of soil, making the world a better place.”
Slip, Slime and Slugs
Events will include the always popular human slug races, in which participants inch their way, much like their animal counterparts, along a soapy and slimy water track on their bellies. Waterproof slug costumes will be provided.
Register 15 minutes before the races begin at the tent near the Picnic Pavilion inside the front gates. Guests will be paired up with others in their age group (4-6, 7-9, 10-12, 13-17, and 18+). Race times are at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Guests can also make tentacle headbands out of construction paper and pipe cleaners, craft snail suncatcher decorations and learn to see the world through a slug’s perspective. And make sure to stop by the newly reopened Cheney Discovery Center to see a banana slug up close.
Remember Wild Drive tours give patrons free admission to Slug Fest and core area animals, plus the chance to see elk, mountain goats and more from the comfort of an air-conditioned car. Book a tour at https://www.nwtrek.org/visit/tours/wild-drive/, spots are limited.
Slug Fest is free with admission or membership to the wildlife park. To learn more about Slug Fest, visit nwtrek.org.