If you have not been able to attend a recent meeting of the Spokane Valley City Council or drop by a gathering sponsored by your local school board, this year’s rendition of Valleyfest will include a worthwhile addendum.
The 21st annual celebration of community later this month will still feature the usual variety of music, activities, food and educational booths – although attendees will also be able to talk shop with representatives from city and county government as well as superintendents from several local school districts.
Delegates from a group called “Building Our Valley Community” will be on hand during the pancake breakfast from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, at CenterPlace to answer questions and chat with citizens. The list of dignitaries includes Mayor Tom Towey of Spokane Valley, County Commissioner Mark Richard, Liberty Lake Mayor Wendy Van Orman and top administrators from the Central Valley, East Valley, West Valley and Freeman school districts.
Residents will also be encouraged to contribute ideas and questions in writing. The comments will be gathered and distributed to area leaders.
“It will sort of be like a town hall meeting at Valleyfest,” said Peggy Doering, Valleyfest director. “The goal of this group is to build community, and that’s what these leaders will be doing.”
Spokane Valley will also be represented by Towey and several City Council members in the Hearts of Gold parade that kicks off the weekend’s festivities on Friday, Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. The start of the parade has been moved back 30 minutes, Doering said, to reduce the glare for parade participants on Sprague Avenue. Because of the later time and some close calls in years past, parade organizers are warning parents to keep kids out of the street when candy is distributed along the parade route.
This year’s procession will honor those in the community who do their part to provide food to less fortunate residents. Grand marshals include Pam Almeida of Meals on Wheels, Barbara Bennett from the Spokane Valley Food Bank, Ken Briggs of Valley Partners, Craig Goodwin, pastor of the Millwood Presbyterian Church and Lynette Romney from the East Valley Farm to School program.
A food drive will take place along Sprague Avenue during the parade and donation barrels have been set up in the weeks leading up to the event at the Spokane Valley Fred Meyer, State Bank, Trading Co. Stores, University City Rosauers and Numerica Credit Union.
The theme will continue on Saturday at 9 a.m. during the Run for Hunger, a 5K or 10K trek along the Centennial Trail. All proceeds from the event – registration is $15 by Sept. 21 or $25 after – will benefit the Spokane Valley Food Bank.
Also on Saturday morning, the hot air balloon launch will take place from CenterPlace, weather permitting. The colorful blimps have been a hit at the event since their debut in 2008. The balloons will be back on Saturday night for the popular “night glow” flight, scheduled for 8 p.m.
Throughout the day on Saturday, a diverse lineup of music will be featured on two stages in the park. The schedule includes the jazz sounds of the Nicole Lewis Band, classic rock from Bella de Rouge and latin harmonies courtesy of Son Dulce.
The agenda for Sept. 25 also includes a family friendly comedy show beginning at 4 p.m.; fishing at Mirabeau Park Falls; a classic car show and martial arts demonstrations. Throughout the weekend, Spokane Transit Authority buses will provide a shuttle to and from Valleyfest grounds for a one-time fee of 75 cents.
Sunday’s schedule will begin at 10 a.m. with a non-denominational church service followed by a bike tour of the Centennial Trail at 11. The day will also include lessons in dog ownership and training from groups like the Spokane Kennel Club and music from the likes of Spokane Valley native Barry Lee White, now a well-known country artist.
As in years past, Doering is observing the latest “International Year” theme as announced by the United Nations. This year’s topic is biodiversity. Local nonprofit groups like Spokane Regional Clean Air and SNAP/Living Green will join businesses like the Inland Empire Paper Co. in promoting green friendly practices that benefit the environment. The Palouse Discovery Science Center and Planetarium will be featured in the park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“People may not realize it, but part of Valleyfest is learning about the world we live in,” Doering said.