The Artist Behind Tukwila’s Juneteenth Commemoration

Each year, we partner with local artists to create a unique piece of artwork for the annual Tukwila Juneteenth Commemoration poster. This year, we’re excited to announce that we had the pleasure of working with Moses Sun, an acclaimed multimedia artist and activist who has called the Seattle area home for almost two decades. Sun’s works can be found all around the city, breathing life into once-barren concrete walls and commemorating sites of progressive social movements. 

Perennially jumping between digital and analog mediums, Sun maintains an artistic throughline centered on telling the story of Black diaspora through “a communion and a conversation between the ancestors, the inner self, and the mystery of making.” As for his own personal story, Sun will tell you how growing up in an activist household in Fayetteville, N.C., helped expose him to experiences that would influence his entire artistic journey, from little kid doodling on pieces of paper all the way to multimedia maestro beautifully adept at capturing the cultural zeitgeist of an entire generation. His childhood was marked by growing up in an activist household where his father and mother participated in a gamut of human rights marches and civic engagements. Although distinct in form, these demonstrations were no different than social movements of today, and Sun’s works give expression to the human element continually struggling to bend this complex history towards justice and beauty. 

After Sun graduated high school from the University of North Carolina School of Arts, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago. There, he studied under mentors like Kerry James Marshall and Nick Cave. After gaining the experience he needed to set out on his own, Sun traveled around the country in search of opportunities, gaining experience in all kinds of professions, from branding to design to TV production. 

In 2006, Sun made his way to Seattle to fill a Creative Director role for an internet search engine company, and he’s been in the area ever since. He’ll be the first to tell you that it took him a little bit of time to wrap his head around the city’s art scene and understand its direction, but today, Sun is a prominent, well-respected, member. One of his most high-profile projects came in the summer of 2020, when he was invited to join other artists in creating a Black Lives Matter mural on Pine Street during the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. His contribution is the letter “M.” Sun formed a strong bond with the 15 other mural artists, and they eventually went on to establish the Vivid Matter Collective. The project has been viewed by millions and marks an important moment in Seattle history, BIPOC (Black Indigenous and People of Color) history, and the history of social movements everywhere. Since creating the piece, Sun has been commissioned for projects all over the city for all kinds of organizations. 

We’re humbled and honored to be on that list of commissioners, and excited to finally share with you the piece that Sun created for Tukwila’s fourth annual Juneteenth Commemoration, a piece that “celebrates the connection African Americans and people of the African Diaspora have to ancestors whose resilience, diversity of thought, and creativity propelled us to thrive today.

This year’s annual Juneteenth Commemoration will take place on Wednesday, June 19, from 11am – 1pm at the Sullivan Center in Tukwila Village. For more details, check out our event page! We hope you will join us for this special day of remembrance and celebration.

New Video Series Launched

Our new business spotlight video series, Tukwila Makes Anything Possible, is finally here! Aimed at highlighting some of the most innovative and creative businesses in Tukwila, this series takes viewers behind the scenes to see how the sausage is made, or rather, how the chocolate and orbitrons are made. Trust us, that joke will make sense once you watch the videos!

We’re so excited to share these videos with the world. It was such a pleasure working with each company to bring their unique story to life. Behind each logo is a massive team of passionate people working tirelessly to sweeten up our days and bring some of the wildest, most out-there ideas to life. It’s humbling to pull back the curtain and see them at work. We hope this series inspires other entrepreneurial minds to chase down that crazy idea. You never know where you might end up. But if you start the chase in Tukwila, you’re guaranteed to be surrounded by a whole community of support. 

First up is a familiar favorite. For years, Seattle Chocolate has delighted us with their unique chocolaty creations. Now, go behind the scenes to see how this once bite-sized company came to take a massive chunk out of the chocolate industry.


Next is Avalanche Energy, a local startup on the rise in the world of sustainable energy technology. Beloved science fiction heroes dot the walls of their warehouse facility, while very real, game-changing fusion energy research takes place on the shop floor. Take a closer look at how they’re hard at work trying to revolutionize our world from a little corner of Tukwila.


We hope you had as much fun watching these videos as we did making them. If you want to learn more about these amazing companies and others like them, simply visit their websites at www.avalanchefusion.com and www.seattlechocolate.com. You can also visit our previous blog, Tukwila Makes Innovation Possible.

A Guide to Tukwila Strolls

Sun’s out, run’s out. That’s our latest motto here at Experience Tukwila, now that we’re finally back to warmer, brighter days for the next few months.

It’s time to lace up your tennies and dig up the sunscreen. We’ve put together a handy little guide of all our favorite routes in Tukwila. There’s a level for everyone here, from the seasoned marathon runner to the “just out for a stroll” casual walking group. You’ll explore new neighborhoods, get elevated views of the city, and find perfect post-stroll drink and food spots. So go ahead, try all five and then let us know what you think.


The Routes

#1 The Framed Tree


Miles: 2.7
Elevation: 411 feet
Description: While this route may be short, it packs a punch. With over 400 feet of elevation, expect to get those legs burning on the hills. This route is mostly paved but has some sections of trail.

Highlights:
Crestview Park, where you should absolutely take a breather and check out the cute dogs at the dog park
Crystal Springs Park — pack your rackets and paddles, since there are tennis and pickleball courts here too

#2 The Bank to Bank Run


Miles: 3.2
Elevation: 131 feet
Description: A relatively flat course, apart from the Duwamish Hill Preserve, which takes you on a scenic 100-foot climb — but the views from the top are worth it! This route is mostly paved but has some sections of trail. The majority of the route takes place on designated biking/hiking trails along both banks of the Duwamish River, so car traffic is kept to a minimum.

Highlights:
Tukwila Community Center
Duwamish River
Green River Trail
Duwamish Gardens Park
Duwamish Hill Preserve
Duwamish Park

#3 Fire and Water


Miles: 4.7
Elevation: 41 feet
Description: This is a flat course and perfect for a speed workout, if that’s your thing. The route is mostly all bike paths and parks. Along the way, you’ll get VIP views of Starfire Sports and the Green and Black rivers.

Highlights:
Starfire Sports/Fort Dent Park
Quick little visit to our friends over in Renton to run around the Black River Riparian Forest and Wetland and to check out the artwork at Waterworks Gardens
Views of the Green and Black rivers
Explore parts of the Green River Trail, the Lake to Sound Trail, and the Springbrook Trail

#4 Cross-Town Craze


Miles: 10.9
Elevation: 229 feet
Description: This route is for the marathon trainer. Ease into a good pace and get ready to enjoy some relaxing miles through Tukwila’s parks and long stretches of bike paths. Be sure to have a plan for hydration, since this is a long one!

Highlights:
Duwamish Hill Preserve
Starfire Sports/Fort Dent Park
Duwamish River
Green River Trail
Tukwila Park

#5 The One and Done

Miles: 0.2
Elevation: 5 feet
Description: Begin your route at the front of Foster Golf Links. Walk around the building once (no running!) and then head inside toward the Billy Baroo’s counter. Watch out for occasional obstacles on your path, like a misplaced dining chair or an exuberant Seawolves fan. Once at the bar, order a pint of your favorite local brew, find your leisurely sipping pace, and enjoy!

Highlights:
Foster Golf Links
Billy Baroo’s
Requires no fitness experience
Beer


Think you’ve got what it takes to conquer every Tukwila route? Then give it a go on a nice, sunny day, and don’t forget to share your experience with friends and family on your favorite fitness apps. We’re so grateful to have such a wide variety of paths throughout the city. Even if you’re not a runner, these routes are perfect for exploring new areas of Tukwila at a leisurely pace. As always, be sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen, and wear high-visibility clothing while running, walking, or biking around the city.

If you have any questions about these routes or would like to submit your own route, simply reach out to us via email or on social media.

Black History Month in Tukwila

Black History Month is a time for us to celebrate, acknowledge, and learn about the achievements and resilience of African Americans in our communities and beyond. Below we’ve compiled some resources and links to help folks actively participate in Black history not just in February, but throughout the year — to continue to engage, honor, and learn.

Learn more about Tukwila’s history

Watch this first-hand account by local resident Wayne Perryman discussing his experience growing up around Tukwila before the development of Southcenter Mall.

Support a local Black-owned business

  • Halwo Kismayo and Grill: Casual spot very popular within the East African community, featuring Somali snacks, box lunches, chai tea, and friendly service.
  • Juba Restaurant & Cafe: Lively East African restaurant perfect for a quick bite, specialty desserts, and comfort food in a casual setting.
  • Sahara Cafe: Counter-serve eatery offering a range of traditional East African comfort dishes.
  • Salama Restaurant and Cafe: Laid-back restaurant offering a range of traditional African comfort dishes.
  • Spice Bridge Food Hall: Global food hall featuring a rotation of eight woman-owned immigrant eateries from around the world, home of the Food Business Incubator program.
  • The Brown Pecan: Mother and Daughter-run business providing candied pecans that are sweet with a little bit of heat.
  • Legacy Gaming Community: Gaming café hosting PC Gaming with the best graphics in HD, 4K, and preparing for 4H graphics to ensure they are cutting edge.

Continued Learning – Black History Month Resources
National Resources

Washington State Resources

King County Resources

Stream These Documentaries

  • African American: Many Rivers to Cross
  • Forgotten Four: The Integration of Pro Football 
  • High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America
  • Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train Comin’
  • 13th  
  • Venus and Serena  
  • The Loving Story

Tukwila Makes Innovation Possible

Situated snuggly along the I-5 corridor just south of Seattle and east of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the city of Tukwila is a basin of attraction for people with big ideas and even bigger dreams. Large manufacturing facilities and spacious warehouses fill gaps between restaurants, movie theaters, and small local businesses, offering ample opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to bring their first proof of concept to life or for the longstanding business owner who wishes to shift operations to a more welcoming and bustling area. Due in large part to the technology boom of the nineties and a long, storied history of aerospace advancements, Tukwila is known across the region as a hub for innovation. Now, look at some exciting businesses shaking things up on the southside.


 

Avalanche Energy:
In need of a new Orbitron? It may sound like a gizmo you would find in Doc’s garage from “Back to the Future,” but the Orbitron is 100% real and 100% game-changing. The brilliant minds over at Avalanche Energy are currently hard at work trying to make massive breakthroughs in fusion technology to bring this little microreactor to life and eventually to market. Inspired by a passion to help combat the climate crisis and move humanity toward a new energy future, the founders of Avalanche Energy chose Tukwila for their startup because of its prime location, availability of warehouse space, and being surrounded by other incredible minds in similar forward-thinking industries. Take a closer look at Avalanche’s work to make fusion energy possible.

 

LeoStella:
Right now, there are hundreds of small satellites flying in low Earth orbit with thousands planned to join them by the end of the decade. Even more fascinating, some of those satellites got their start over in a little corner of Tukwila. LeoStella is a state-of-the-art small satellite manufacturing company, redefining how high-quality Earth observation constellations are built. Focusing primarily on satellite constellations, the team is leading the way in reducing development costs and time to bring a fully operational product online in just three to four months—about half the amount of time as other companies in the industry. Over the past five years, the company has delivered 19 small satellites to LEO with many more planned for near future. The space they occupy in Tukwila is rather unconventional for their type of work. Originally designed for standard office use, LeoStella renovated their space to include an ISO class 8 cleanroom/production floor for assembling the satellites. Take a closer look at this impressive operation that shoots for the stars. 

 

Seattle Chocolate Company:
You know the packaging, you know the flavors, but did you know that Seattle Chocolate Company is located in Tukwila? It’s true! One of the most iconic names in chocolate can be found in a candy-colored building just south of town. It’s the stuff of dreams to have a neighborhood chocolate factory. As part of a larger rebrand in the mid-2000s, Seattle Chocolate Company moved operations to Tukwila where it has been raising the chocolate bar ever since. Owner, Jean Thompson claims that purchasing the building that would become the factory’s new home in Tukwila “was the single best investment I ever made.” With help from her daughter Ellie, Jean is setting an example for the entire industry by producing ethically sourced chocolate in their carbon-neutral Tukwila facility. Take a closer look at the amazing chocolatey concoctions they dream up.

 


And that’s just a small taste of the many incredible businesses operating out of Tukwila. Go anywhere around town and you’ll find pockets of innovation brimming with talented minds working together to bring new creative ideas to life. 

We love celebrating these businesses and the people behind the work. We even made a video to prove it! Be on the lookout for the launch of Tukwila Makes Anything Possible—a video highlighting the three companies above and how they contribute to the larger fabric of innovation here in Tukwila.

Tukwila’s 2023 Holiday Gift Guide

Nestled right there between Taylor Swift’s Eras World Tour, Barbenheimer, and Fat Bear Week is the 2023 Tukwila Holiday Gift Guide. This event comes just once a year, but the joy it produces is pretty much limitless. We’ve made our list and checked it twice. Now it’s your turn to give it a once over. You’ll see a lot of returning favorites as well as many new faces this year. So go ahead, dive in, dig around, and come away with amazing gift ideas that will help you win the holidays! 

For the Mega Fan:

    • Seawolves Jersey/2024 Season TicketsShow your commitment to the best rugby team in the universe (we’re not biased, promise). Sport a fresh new jersey, or go all in on season tickets for the Seawolves 2024 season!
    • OL Reign/Sounders Merch: Tukwila is overflowing with talent, which means you should be overloaded with swag. Grab the latest OL Reign and Seattle Sounders merch to complete your full #champstrainintukwila wardrobe. 

For the Sporty:

    • Mayweather Boxing: Here’s a gift that’s undefeated – a membership to Mayweather Boxing! Train like a champ in this one-of-a-kind, high-intensity gym that builds community and muscle. 
    • Starfire Camps for Kids/ Adult Drop-Ins: You can’t score a goal with an iPad. Give your kid the gift that keeps on giving them a reason to be outside. Starfire Sports has plenty of camps for kids eager to take to the pitch.
    • Foster Golf Links: There’s nothing quite like sending a tiny ball sailing through a hall of towering Douglas firs and lush ferns. Don’t miss out on the holiday special at Foster Golf Links!

For the Playful:

    • Sykart: This is an easy one because everyone loves go-karts. If they say otherwise, they’re lying. Take your gift-giving from 0 to 60 with Sykart – the PNW’s premiere indoor go-kart track. 
    • Dimension XR: Every year someone gives the gift of a VR headset. And every year a living room gets destroyed. This year, protect your house by leaving VR to the professionals. Book a reservation at Dimension XR today.
    • Legacy Gaming: Gaming lounges are a great way to enjoy classic video games and make friends. Legacy Gaming offers a wide range of packages for every type of gamer.
    • iFly: Experience what it’s like to drop from thousands of feet in the air while barely leaving the ground. iFly is a fun way for the whole family to experience a whole new level of joy this holiday season.
    • Tukwila Family Fun Center: Spend the holidays at everyone’s favorite fun center. Right now, Tukwila Family Fun Center is offering $10 off when you buy $50 in gift certificates. Go-karts, bowling, games, and more!
    • Defy: You haven’t trampolined until you’ve trampolined at Defy. Give the gift of defying gravity with a membership card + a Holidays Perks Passport.

For the Experiential Type:

    • Meadmaking ClassHere’s a pretty sweet idea for the holidays – mead-making! Connect to thousands of years of history with a private mead-making class from Jon Oppegaard, the Owner and Head Meadmaker for Oppegaard Meadery. Want to read more about the business before you commit? Check out the blog on our recent meadery visit!
    • Seattle Chocolate Factory Tour: Speaking of sweet, what’s a holiday gift guide without Seattle Chocolate? Treat your family and friends to a factory tour of this Tukwila institution to see how much love goes into making your favorite bar of chocolate.
    • Tickets to Rainier Symphony: For all the music lovers out there, Tukwila is home to one of the finest community orchestras around. Grab tickets for a night at the Rainier Symphony listening to all your favorite holiday classics.
    • Museum of Flight Membership: A full-size airplane won’t fit in a gift box, but a membership to The Museum of Flight will! With over 175 aircraft and spacecraft, dozens of exhibits, and thousands of artifacts, it’s the perfect gift for the history buff in your family. While you’re on their site, check out their rocking gift guide for more inspiration.

For the Foodie:

    • Spice Bridge Shop: Everyone knows Spice Bridge for their amazing rotating menu of globally inspired dishes. But did you know they also have a swag shop? Pick up a tote or gift card for that special foodie in your family!
    • Bacovino Wine: A wine tasting never misses. Take that special someone out for a romantic night at Bacovino Wine. There’s a tasting room in Tukwila? You bet your cork there is!

For the Stylish: 

    • SouthcenterWhen you don’t know how to shop for someone, just give them the gift of shopping! Westfield Southcenter has gift cards for all the amazing brands in Washington’s favorite mall.
    • The Cool NW Clothing: Help them update their wardrobe with The Cool NW – a lifestyle boutique that has been creating elevated streetwear in Tukwila since 2009.

Thank You, Tukwila

Brisk autumn air has finally swept through Tukwila, shaking the green from leaves and blowing festive wool scarves and knitted hats out from their seasonal hiding places. We’re just days out from one of the biggest hits of the holiday season, Thanksgiving. All that matters is family, food, and appreciating the many wonderful moments we get to experience in this life. So why don’t we all gather around the proverbial table and share a little bit about what we’re most thankful for. Here, we’ll go first! 

Our Diverse Dining Scene

We’re thankful that Tukwila has cultivated such a diverse dining scene. There are so many unique ways to break bread in this city and so many wonderful people providing it. From enjoying worldly dishes cooked up by immigrant and refugee chefs at Spice Bridge to gathering family and friends for a round of wings and football at Billy Baroo’s, Tukwila is home to every way to enjoy a delicious meal.

Our Inspiring Champions

We’re thankful for the many professional sports teams that inspire us and wow us throughout the year. There’s nothing quite like weaseling your way into the middle of a roaring crowd at Starfire Sports as the Seawolves clinch another playoff appearance. Starfire is also where we love watching legends like Megan Rapinoe train with OL Reign during the final season of her illustrious career and the Sounders put in hours to launch them into the Western Conference Semifinals.

Tukwila is where champions train and where fans become one with the team.

Our Spacious Parks 

We’re thankful for all the amazing natural spaces that are just right outside our front door, and for all the amazing people that keep them beautiful. Towering trees, flowing rivers and streams, and cliffside views can all be reached within city limits. Nearly every weekend, volunteers from all over work together as part of Green Tukwila to conserve these natural spaces so that we can continue enjoying them well into the future.

Our Beautiful Art 

We’re thankful for the many unique ways this city expresses itself through art. Take a quick stroll around Tukwila and you will find many commissioned pieces on the sides of buildings, utility boxes, or even under bridges. Many wonderful sculptures also dot the landscape, sometimes asking you to venture to rarely visited corners of our lovely parks.

Our Endless List of Activities 

We’re thankful for never having a lack of things to do in Tukwila. Never is there a day when we’d rather be lying on the couch than out experiencing new things in our amazing city. We can whip around the track at SyKart Indoor Racing, join a drop-in game at Starfire Sports, shop till we drop at Southcenter, play a round or two at Foster Golf Links, or even glimpse the future with a round of VR laser tag at Dimension XR. And that’s just one day around town!

Our Innovative Businesses 

We’re thankful for the many businesses that have chosen Tukwila to be home for their wildest dreams. Every year businesses celebrate their grand openings right here in Tukwila. It’s humbling to see long-standing institutions like The Museum of Flight and Foster Golf Links continue to innovate and inspire visitors, as well as to watch newcomers like Seattle Chocolates, Oppegaard Meadery, and LeoStella take their respective industries by storm.

Happy Thanksgiving!

As you can see, there are unlimited things to be grateful for in this wonderful city, and it’s all thanks to the loving people who call it home. From all of us here at Experience Tukwila, we hope you have a very cozy Thanksgiving full of delicious food and surrounded by the people you love.

Champions Train in Tukwila, and Soar on the Field!

On October 6, a guest blogger from Experience Tukwila was invited to attend the final regular season home match of Megan Rapinoe’s stunning career with the OL Reign. Check out a recap from the night! 

The lights from Lumen Field lit up the skyline on a brisk Friday night in early October. Fans gathered in droves around the outside of the stadium. A mixture of excitement and hesitation filled the air. Such a historic night was ahead, but not without the closing of a chapter that has come to shape so much of Seattle’s soccer culture. 

It was the final regular season home match of the beloved Megan Rapinoe — the legendary OL Reign forward who will be retiring at the end of this season after a decade with the team. In her tenure, Rapinoe has emerged as one of the most defining soccer players of the last decade, winning two World Cup titles and an Olympic gold medal. Off the field, she played a major role in issuing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination. She was later awarded a Presidential Medal of Honor for her victory in helping to close the gender pay gap in professional soccer.

OL Reign played their inaugural NWSL season at Starfire Sports back in 2013. After a decade-long stint of training in Tacoma, they returned to Starfire last year due to its proximity to their new home stadium, Lumen Field, in downtown Seattle. Starfire Sports — which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year — has long been a central hub of soccer and culture here in the Pacific Northwest, so it was only natural to have the team back at their original training facility.

Ahead of the game, fans displayed their Rapinoe merch and looks, sporting extensions, wigs, facepaint, and other rose-colored regalia. Lumen Field was a sea of pink, alive with music, people, and celebration.

As fans gathered into their seats, a video tribute of Rapinoe’s career began — featuring family, competitors and colleagues, fellow sports icons, and elected leaders celebrating her remarkable career. The memories brought smiles and tears across the stadium. As the video concluded, a massive “THANK YOU MEGAN” message spelled out by adoring fans in the lower bowl popped into view across the pitch.  

The match was a fierce defensive battle. Megan, along with all the players on the pitch, dazzled fans with incredible footwork and explosive action, but by the 90-minute mark, no team had been able to put one away. It ended in a 0-0 tie, thanks in large part to the incredible saves by goalkeeper Claudia Dickey, who later earned NWSL Save of the Week for her strategic dive into the left side of the goal.

The crowd was electric, and soccer fans from all over showed up in support of one of our city’s greatest stars. Game attendance was the highest in NWSL’s 10-year history across all teams, with 34,130 people filling the stands. 

Since our chance to see her play, Rapinoe has played a massive role in sending her team to the playoffs, scoring two goals in their must-win final match of the season. Now the team is looking for a win in the semifinals on November 5 against the San Diego Wave FC to send them into their third finals appearance and the chance to win their first NWSL championship title. Regardless of the outcome, Megan will forever be our champion! 

Tukwila Is Buzzing With Art

No matter where you go, the feeling in Tukwila is always electric. Whether you’re buzzing after a game-winning goal at Starfire Sports, feeling the tingle of spice from traditional Congolese food at Spice Bridge, or getting shivers gazing at a space exhibit in the Museum of Flight, every experience packs a jolt of excitement and wonder.

Even the actual electrical current that runs through our city and powers businesses and homes has been given the Tukwila treatment. Over the past few years, our city has enlisted the help of local artists to dress up utility boxes around town, using them as their very own blank canvases. The result was a bloom in creativity seen all over the city. We absolutely love coming across one of these beautiful pieces out in the wild. Take a tour of this unique urban gallery below and then go see the real pieces for yourself!

Interurban Ave South:

Transition 21

Jennifer L. Towner

All the Homes We’ve Made in the Margins

Clare Johnson

Tukwila Wildlife Relief Prints 

Susan Hass

Southcenter Boulevard:

Dancing Night

Nikita Ares

Succession 

Cable Griffith

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Hoa Hong

Tukwila International Boulevard:

Roses

Julisha Kim

Going Places

Stephanie Krimmel 

All Are Welcome 

Cecelia “Mousy DeVilla” Deleon

Southcenter Parkway

Baker Boulevard:

Seeking 

Elizabeth Gahan

Taking Flight 

Elizabeth Gahan 

Other:

Our Food Is Immigrant-Led

Sophia Fang

Full of Sparkles

Xin Xin

Rainbows of the Day & Night

Blanca Santander

Cul-De-Sac

Taylor Tingshi 

River Trail Block Party

Carmel Mercado 

Volunteer With Tukwila’s Public Art Program

Inspired by all the amazing utility box art? Well, now you too can help beautify our city with art. Simply sign up for one of the listening sessions below to learn more about the program and help us plan the future of Tukwila art!

First Community Session (virtual)
Tuesday, October 3, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Second Community Session (virtual)
Thursday, October 12, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Third Community Session (in-person, Tukwila Community Center)
Saturday, October 14, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Language interpretation support and activities for participants with children to be provided.

Can’t wait to see you there!

A Taste of Oppegaard Meadery

Since 2017, Oppegaard Meadery has been producing some of the most celebrated mead in the region, and even the world. People come from all over to visit this meadery nestled in a little corner of Tukwila. Experiencing somewhat of a renaissance, mead is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting a simple mixture of honey and water; its origins stretch far back through human history. Mead has been celebrated for tens of thousands of years, making countless appearances in stories and poetry from cultures all across the world. Today, Tukwila is quickly becoming one of the focal points of the great mead revival. 

We sat down with owner and founder Jon Oppegaard to learn more about mead and what makes Oppegaard Meadery such a special place for passionate connoisseurs and newcomers alike.

How do you describe mead to someone?

The variety that’s possible is so huge, but trying to explain that to people is the hardest thing. When someone comes in and asks what mead tastes like I’m like, “Uh, anything?”

How much mead have you made?

We’ve done like a hundred-something varieties at this point. The variety is endless. 

What inspired you to make mead?

So, I’m a nerd. I grew up reading fantasy books like The Lord of the Rings. My ancestors came from pretty much all over Europe. But my name comes from Norway, specifically. My great-great-grandfather came here from Oppegaard, Norway. As a kid, I was obsessed with Vikings and anything Norwegian, and if you read enough about that stuff, you’ll come across mead. It didn’t really click [for me] that it was an actual drink you could get in the modern era. It wasn’t until eventually somebody that I worked with was like, “Hey, you know you can buy mead at the grocery store, right?” That blew my mind. I immediately bought a bottle after work and fell in love with it. So, I learned how to make it as a way to save money. It started out terrible. But I’m pretty persistent. I started getting the hang of it. Got involved with a lot of mead forums online. Eventually starting a meadery was the natural progression of things; it kind of outgrew my house. I never planned on quitting my real job as a mechanic. It kind of just grew, and one day I walked out on my job. My plan was to see how long I could go without a job. That was 7 years ago. 2016 is officially when we opened.

Is mead becoming more popular in Tukwila?

Did you know there’s another meadery right across the street from here? That one opened a little over a year ago. Yeah, we’re the only place in the entire world that has two meaderies across the street from each other. We joke that we’re going to become the Woodinville of mead.

Do you host or sponsor events?

We get food trucks here a couple of times a month. We do a lot of tasting events. We do mead-making classes here. We’ve had tattoo artists giving Viking-themed flash tattoos here. We’ve hosted a band and even had a person playing a hurdy-gurdy here in the corner. The plan is to do more. I also supply all the mead for the Renaissance Faire in Monroe. We’ve talked about more local events, but since Covid just ended, everyone in the mead world is still struggling. We were probably one of the slowest alcohol sectors to recover. It was tough. I became a full-time delivery driver for a moment. 

What is the production process like?

Honey and water and yeast and then … wait. That’s it! Usually six to eight weeks. There’s a lot of unique ways to approach the same simple process. And you know, there are a lot of misconceptions about how to make mead online. I just trial-and-errored my way through it when I first started out. Eventually, I figured out the many tips and techniques that are commonplace among professionals. I did eventually make connections and now have a group chat with friends in the mead world, and we’re constantly talking back and forth about our process and new ideas. The other day, someone even called me an OG of the mead industry! 

How important is mead to Washington?

Washington is one of the hubs for mead. We are one of the only states in the country that recognizes mead as separate from wine. Everyone else lumps it in with wine. There are a lot of state rules that just don’t make sense for mead. 

Are there a lot of regulars that visit Oppegaard?

You know, we have the Viking Mead Club. There are 300 people in it. It’s capped at 300. It’s pretty much always full. But we get all kinds of people coming in here. It’s pretty wild and really flattering how many people come through here, this random mead house in Tukwila. 

Where does all the art inside the tasting room come from?

Pretty much everything on the wall and the tables themselves has a story. A lot of people who are into mead are really artistic people. So, most of the art on the wall are from people who have a connection to the meadery. And I try to travel around as much as my bank account will let me. So, some of this stuff is from my travels also. I like to joke that the meadery is just an excuse to display all my stuff. Like one of these axes on the wall, the blade is between 1,700 and 2,200 years old. It’s basically like a horse axe.

What makes you proud? 

I quit my job knowing full well that I only had enough money for 3 months, expecting that I would go get a real job again, and then I just didn’t. And it’s been 7 years with no signs of slowing down. That was never something I really expected. It was my wildest dream. I never have a bad day. 

What makes mead so special?

People have been drinking mead for probably tens of thousands of years more than we know about. So, it’s like embedded in your DNA. Everyone back in the day drank mead; it didn’t matter where they were in the world. If there were bees nearby, there was mead. 

Oppegaard Meadery 

Oppegaard Meadery is located at 600 Industry Drive in Tukwila, WA, and is open Tuesday through Thursday, 12 PM to 6 PM, and Friday through Saturday, 12 PM to 8 PM. Stop in for a tasting and say hello to Jon!