The days are growing shorter, the leaves are starting to turn and Valleyfest, once again, takes up its weekend residency at Mirabeau Point Park.
Unlike the inevitability of the fall equinox, however, Valleyfest – a three-day celebration that incorporates a parade, pancakes, cars and canines – doesn’t just happen. It comes about through tireless volunteer efforts and by the sheer force of will of its executive director, Peggy Doering, who has helmed the event since 1996 and a mainstay since Valleyfest’s inception in 1990.
Earlier this week, Doering was ironing out the final details while scrambling to keep a volunteer workforce reduced by illness on target.
“We have had a lot of people volunteer with us for a long time step up and help,” Doering said. “It happens. We enjoy our volunteers.”
In its humble beginnings, Valleyfest was just a one-day neighborhood festival that centered at Terrace View Park. A day of entertainment and kids activities would generally cap off with an appearance by the Spokane Symphony.
And there was candy. Lots and lots of candy.
While that aspect hasn’t really changed, the expanded three-day schedule will begin tonight (Friday) with the Hearts of Gold Parade along Sprague Avenue eastward from University Road. The parade – which was revived in 2005 in honor of the regional cantaloupe that marks this area’s origins – harkens back to a 1950s event.
The 141st Fairchild Air Force Base and the Spokane Valley Fire Department honor guards will lead the way when the parade begins at 7:30 p.m.
Also featured will be P.J. Jarvis, National Physical Education Teacher of the Year and grand marshal. Jarvis teaches at Opportunity Elementary and has instructed in the Central Valley school district for over a decade.
This year also marks the first appearance of Valleyfest Value Days, which is geared to be a local economy-booster tied to the event. Special deals and savings will be offered for shoppers throughout Spokane Valley.
“It’s meant to be an economic-developer generator,” Doering said
For a full list of participating businesses, visit www.valleyfest.org.
On Saturday, the focus shifts to Mirabeau Point where vendors and food booths will rub elbows over the course of the day. First, however, a pancake breakfast will be served at CenterPlace from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.
At 8 a.m. Saturday, the Valleyfest Car Show – hosted and judged by the Lowcos Car Club – is unveiled, and prizes will be awarded in display, paint, motor, chrome, interior, undercarriage and Best in Show categories.
For those whose interests lay in the skies, the Balloons Over Valleyfest will launch each morning at 6:35 a.m. With a special “night glow” set for Saturday evening at 8 p.m. at CenterPlace.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, the fourth-annual Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk will take place at Discovery Playground. The easy, one-mile walk is open to everyone.
New this year is Babyfest, which takes place (ironically) at the Spokane Valley Senior Center at CenterPlace from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s a new adventure for us,” Doering said.
The free event will pair local resources and business with expecting families with products and services. Early registration is helpful at www.inlandbaby.org or by calling 499-0607.
There will also be Fishing at the Falls, sponsored by Wholesale Sports, will be open at Mirabeau springs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Information and poles will be provided.
Taste of the Valley – a wine-tasting event from area wineries – gets bubbling from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Great Room at CenterPlace. Food by Red Rock Catering will be available. There will also be music by Bakin’ Phat and Six Foot Swing. Cost is $30 to attend; go to www.valleyfest.org for details.
Sunday is “Doggone Fun Day,” sponsored by Julia’s Jungle. The Spokane Kennel Club will be helping dog owners with training and health questions from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mirabeau Point Park.
Dove races, for the feather-inclined, takes place at Mirabeau Meadows are Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The first to enter the coop wins!
Bike riders will enjoy the Valleyfest Centennial Trail Ride on Sunday at noon, sponsored by the Bike Hub. Check in is at 11 a.m. at Mirabeau Point Park North Trailhead and is $15 for adults, $5 for children 10 and under. Participants receive a T-shirt for the taking part in four different loops.
Also on Sunday, the Valleyfest 5K/10K Run for a Cause takes place at the Mirabeau Point South Centennial Trailhead at 8:30 a.m. Be sure to get there early to register, which costs $15. Call 922-3299 for more information, or visit www.valleyfest.org.
Of course the various stages around the venue will be packed with entertainment throughout the weekend. Go to the Valleyfest Web site for a complete schedule.