The Hillyard neighborhood has a very strong sense of place, identity and history, and at no other time is that more apparent than during the annual Hillyard Festival.
This year, the all-volunteer festival association has pulled out all stops for the 100th Hillyard Festival, which opens Friday in Sharpley-Harmon Park.
“This year’s festival will be bigger and better,” said Vickie Peterson, treasurer for the Hillyard Festival Association, on Monday, when a group of festival planners got together over ice tea at the Outlaw Café.
Desi Bucknell, president of the Hillyard Festival Association, said that something new this year is that each festival day has a theme.
“Friday is senior day, with special entertainment for the elderly and retired folks,” said Bucknell. “Saturday is centennial day and Sunday is family day.”
On Friday, city, county and state officials will gather at 4:30 p.m. to proclaim the weekend Hillyard Festival Weekend.
And on Saturday at 10 a.m. is the anticipated Hillyard Hi-Jinks Parade.
“Market Street will be closed from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. between Wellesley and Francis,” said Bucknell. Parade participants are welcome until just before the parade starts. It is $20 to be in the parade, but children 12 and younger can join for free.
“If there are families who feel like they can’t afford the $20, then we have some sponsorships available,” said Paula Davis, Hillyard Festival Association entertainment chair.
The parade is northbound and lines up at Broad Avenue and Market Street, but last-minute cars and floats must come in on Haven and Olympic. Volunteers will staff the barricades there and a mobile registration cart will get everyone signed up.
“Last year there were more than 65 entries in the parade,” said Bucknell.
As soon as the Hi-Jinks Parade is over, the Hot Rods in Hillyard Parade will begin its southbound journey on Market.
“We expect about 150 hot rods to be in that parade,” said Richard Burris, Hillyard Festival Association secretary. “Once they are done with the parade, they park in Hillyard for a show and shine for the rest of the days.”
Women from Hooters Restaurants will be handing out ballots for the hot rods “people’s choice award” during the parade.
The biggest part of the action – as always – is in Sharpley-Harmon Park. More than 70 vendors are expected over the weekend, and as something new it’s possible to use debit and credit cards.
“We have ordered these great commemorative wooden tokens,” said Burris. “This way, people who didn’t bring cash can run their card through in one place and get tokens for the afternoon.”
Saturday is free swimming day at the Hillyard Pool, sponsored by Spokane Central Lions Club – just to mention one of the many activities.
Grownups may enjoy a new 15-foot-long bar at the beer garden.
“Everyone must have ID to get in,” said Burris. “No matter how old you look, you must have ID on you to get into the beer garden – no exceptions.”
Saturday ends with a 20-minute fireworks extravaganza.
Sunday gets under way with a 10 a.m. multidenominational worship celebrated at the park by seven churches. And there’s live music all weekend.
“The best way for people to get a schedule of events is to pick up the Hillyard Festival Gazette,” said Burris. “It’s going to be a great weekend.”