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Hillyard gets head start on next year’s centennial festival

The Hillyard Festival Association dug deep into files, books and pictures, and came up with 1911 as the first year there was some sort of community festival in the Spokane neighborhood. So they’re calling this year’s celebration “Hillyard Festival 2010 – 99 years of celebrating the Hillyard Neighborhood.”

“This year’s theme is Pulling Together,” said Luke Tolley, association secretary. “We have really put a lot into it this year. We’re looking at it as sort of gearing up for next year’s 100-year celebration.”

Most of the festival activities take place in Sharpley-Harmon Park – just north of the Hillyard business district – where bands will perform on the main stage and there will be all sorts of family activities.

“The Hillyard Kiwanis are putting on the midway, which is all kids’ activities all weekend,” Tolley said. “They have really focused on bringing more children here to the festival.” The Hillyard Kiwanis also sponsor the fireworks show Saturday evening.

In the park there will be a beer garden and 40 to 50 vendors.

“It has taken us a couple of years to get the power updated in the park – we really need that for the food vendors – and that’s all working out this year,” Tolley said.

There are two car shows Saturday on the side streets off Market Street, in the middle of the business district.

And the parade, which runs north on Market Street, starts at 10 a.m. Saturday.

“This year we are trying to put out some bleachers in what we call ‘downtown Hillyard,’ ” Tolley said.

The festival association will have a booth at the park, and neighbors are welcome to sign up to volunteer or offer a hand during the festival.

“It can be a bit hard to get new people into it during the festival because it’s so busy and there’s so much going on,” Tolley said. “But it’s a great way to meet new volunteers, and we always need more volunteers.”

That’s how Tolley got involved years ago. After the festival was over, he sent a letter to the president of the festival association then, complaining that no one had reached out to him.

“It wasn’t a nasty letter – we laugh about it today – but she called me and said, ‘Hey, put your money where your mouth is, we’d love to have you,’ so here I am,” Tolley said with a chuckle.

Sunday morning’s service in the park is expected to draw several hundred people at 10 a.m., and everything closes Sunday at 5 p.m.

“This is just a great way to connect with the neighborhood, whether you just have a soft spot for Hillyard or you want to meet your neighbors,” Tolley said. “And next year, it’s going to be a lot bigger.”