Long before Seattle celebrated Seafair, there was the Golden Potlatch. Seattle's first summer festival opened on July 17, 1911, to commemorate the onset of the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush and to pan some new gold from the pockets of tourists and revelers. The first two festivals were peaceful enough, but high spirits turned to drunken rioting in 1913, when a mob sacked the local offices of the IWW and Socialist Party. Seattle Times publisher Col. Alden J. Blethen saluted such "patriotic" vigilantism, prompting Mayor George Cotterill to embargo the newspaper and declare a state of emergency.
The incident was prompted when three artillerymen took offense when their uniforms were insulted by a local rabble-rousing street agitator on the corner of Occidental and Washington. Backed up by a couple a of swabbies on shore leave, the group wound up on the wrong end of a butt-kicking in a street fight.