It seems like there is always something new to check out at the annual Valleyfest event, and this year will be no different.
The 23rd annual festival started as a one-day event at Terrace View Park. Now Valleyfest sprawls over three days in Mirabeau Park and CenterPlace with activities such as a parade, car show, food, music, art and walks. This year’s event is set for Sept. 21-23.
A few days before Valleyfest starts, people will begin noticing Valleyfest banners going up at area businesses that are offering deals as part of Valleyfest Value Days. Valleyfest organizer Peggy Doering said she originally was focusing on businesses along the parade route on Sprague Avenue, but it has since spread to businesses all over Spokane Valley.
Hotels will offer special rates if guests say they are in town for Valleyfest. Coupons and deals offered by local merchants will be printed in The Spokesman-Review Voice sections on Sept. 15 and Sept. 20. “There’s giveaways, there’s coupons, there’s all kinds of stuff,” she said.
Another big change is the walk that usually takes place on Saturday morning. This year Valleyfest is partnering with DS Connections NW to offer the Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk at 10 a.m. Sept. 22. The annual one-mile walk used to take place in Idaho and is expected to bring in more than 600 people from around the region, Doering said.
The group that organizes the walk first approached her two years ago about being part of Valleyfest, Doering said. “They’re so excited about it,” she said. “We’re welcoming them to the Valleyfest family.”
People interested in signing up for the walk can register online at www.dsconnectionsnw.org. Walkers will also be able to sign up the day of the event.
As the result of the addition of the Down syndrome walk, the festival’s usual 5k/10k walk has been moved to Sept. 23 at 8 a.m. and the family bike ride has been moved to noon the same day. Both those events will also benefit Down syndrome research and programs.
The festival will also have a Babyfest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Spokane Valley Senior Center in CenterPlace. There will be workshops, exhibits, activities for kids and prizes. Babyfest is organized by Inland NW Baby and Bloom Spokane.
As always, there will be a “Hearts of Gold” parade down Sprague Avenue the evening of Sept. 21. The grand marshal is P.J. Jarvis of Opportunity Elementary School, who was named the 2009 National Physical Education Teacher of the Year. Jarvis fits in with Valleyfest’s emphasis on walks and bike rides, Doering said. “Here we have this teacher with a heart of gold,” she said.
The parade will also include a flyover by several biplanes. “They actually did it for me last year as a surprise and I thought it was very cool,” Doering said.
Also new this year is a free shuttle running between CenterPlace and Mirabeau Park.
But while there will be plenty of new things to check out, all the old favorites will be back. Hot air balloons will be flying over Spokane Valley, the pond by the waterfall will be stocked with fish, a pancake breakfast will be served and the planetarium will be open for business. The annual Taste of the Valley food and wine event is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 22 at CenterPlace.
Doering said she is still in need of volunteers, particularly people willing to help vendors set up early Saturday morning and tear down Sunday afternoon. “We get a lot of kid volunteers, but we need a lot of strong adults also,” she said.
Anyone interested in signing up to help and getting a volunteer T-shirt is asked to call (509) 922-3299. A full schedule of Valleyfest events is available at www.valleyfest.org.