The normally quiet streets of Fairfield spring to life today when the small southeast Spokane County farming town hosts its 88th annual Flag Day celebration.
“The citizens are fiercely loyal to the celebration,” said Gerry McLean, of the Fairfield Fire Department and president of the parade committee. “It’s been a tradition for so long, we don’t want to let it go.
“Having it in a small town gives it a more personalized touch because a greater percentage of the community works on it,” said McLean.
Fairfield’s annual celebration of Old Glory, which dates back to 1910, is the oldest community Flag Day festival in the West, according to local historian Glen Adams.
About 40 people, primarily representatives of the fire department and the Fairfield Service Club, organize the Flag Day parade and other activities. The planning begins at about the first of the year and preparation reaches a fevered pitch during the first two weeks of June.
It seems that almost everyone in Fairfield plays a part in making this celebration a success. Residents can be seen sweeping sidewalks, scaling telephones poles to hang flags and carrying chairs into the town Grange Hall to prepare for the afternoon performance of patriotic music.
The main event of the day is the 11 a.m. parade that runs right down Main Street. It features old cars, tractors, llamas, a drill team, war veterans, and a color guard from Fairchild Air Force Base.
The local historical society opens the Fairfield Museum from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Flag Day. The museum holds pictures of the town’s early days and lots of memorabilia. The most unusual display is the old Fairfield jail cell.
Fairfield’s town park becomes a haven for hundreds of people on Flag Day as they break for lunch, watch the cloggers and tap dancers who perform in the gazebo and let the kids enjoy the small carnival rides and games assembled by the service club.
“This has been going on since my grandfather was a kid and I think it’s a real worthwhile thing,” said Don Thies, president of the Fairfield Service Club. “I enjoy seeing everybody and getting the community together.”
Thies, a lifetime resident of Fairfield, has been working on Flag Day with the service club for more than 10 years.
“We do it for the people,” said Thies with a proud grin. “A small town celebration is different than anything else you can experience. It’s all about community and tradition.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: FLAG DAY FUN The Flag Day parade, which begins at 11 a.m. on Main Street, is always a highlight of Fairfield’s Flag Day celebration. But there are a host of other activities: Town basketball team pancake feed will be held at the Grange Hall from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30a.m. The cost is $3.75 for adults and $2.75 for seniors and kids. The Flag Flying Fun Run starts at 8 a.m. at the town park. A children’s parade begins at 10:30 a.m. on Main Street. The flag-raising ceremony is at 10:50 a.m. at the Fairfield Library. There will be a carnival and food booths in the park from noon until 5 p.m. The Rock Creek Quilters exhibit will be on display at the Presbyterian Church from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A program of patriotic music, featuring the El Katif Shrine Chanters and Jazz Band, begins at 1 p.m. at the Grange Hall. A dance for adults (21 and older) begins at 8 p.m. at the fire station. Music will be provided by the Randy Shaw Band. Admission is $5 per person.
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