Several indicators give Valleyfest organizers a hint as to how many people visit the annual three-day event.
How much food did vendors sell? How many marched in the parade? How much garbage was emptied from the trash cans? And how many maintenance employees were brought in to clean up after the event?
One promising indicator: Saturday’s pancake breakfast sold out for the first time in years.
But it was too early to tell on the other measures Saturday afternoon as people milled about Mirabeau Point Park and the CenterPlace event center. So far the event, which continues today, has drawn a big crowd, said Executive Director Peggy Doering.
“I’m very pleased with the turnout,” Doering said. “I think it’s pretty good.”
The 23rd annual Valleyfest included activities attendees look forward to each year: the Hearts of Gold parade, Balloons over Valleyfest, food, art, music and a car show. Billed as the Valley’s biggest event, Valleyfest had a small start, but has grown over the years and includes a number of new attractions this year.
Babyfest, held Saturday, was one of the new attractions, and it drew more people than organizers anticipated.
Organized by area nonprofits Bloom Spokane and Inland NW Baby, Babyfest included prizes and activities for kids, baby-friendly products, educational workshops, giveaways and local resources related to pregnancy, birth and parenting.
“All things considered, this is a great first-time event,” said organizer Tine Reese, founder of Bloom Spokane. “We just need more room for more strollers. It’s a stroller logjam in here. Next year we’re going to have to have more space.
“It’s a good problem to have,” she added.
After some controversy earlier this year over whether the Spokane Valley City Council would grant Valleyfest lodging tax funding, it ultimately did approve a $30,000 grant to market the event.
Other big draws include Fishing at the Falls, in which kids got to cast their lines and catch a fish, and “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” an interactive presentation featuring an alligator, porcupine, lemur and python.
“There’s something for all ages,” said Mary Scott, who was there with her daughter and grandchildren. “We come every year. The kids love it.”