It’s been a tradition in Deer Park since 1985: Residents gather in the center of town to celebrate winter and their community.
Every year, the Deer Park Kiwanis club organizes Winterfest, a conglomeration of events including dog weight pulls, broomball on snow and the always-entertaining outhouse races at Perrin Field.
On Saturday, Kathy and Skip Blythe enjoyed their first Winterfest after moving to the Deer Park area from southern Utah.
“It’s really fun,” Kathy said. “We came to see the dog pull and the outhouse races.”
“We’re very sophisticated,” Skip joked.
Outhouse racing teams consisted of four people pushing a miniature outhouse on skis with one person sitting inside.
Across the street at City Hall, an art show was presented in council chambers and a quilt show in the basement.
Kiwanis member Barbara Thomas said members of the Deer Park High School cross country team helped organize the 5-kilometer Frostbite Footrace as part of their senior projects.
At the Community Arts Center, 315 E. Crawford St., vendors set up tables to sell their wares, including honey, purses, handmade soaps and tie-dyed clothing.
“I’m already set up for next year,” said Kiwanis member DeAnne Bond, who said the event is so popular that she only has two tables left open for next year’s Winterfest.
Flo Moore, treasurer for the Kiwanis, said the event began with a community leader who wanted to bring tourists to the area.
At the first Winterfest event in 1985, vendors sold decals people could take home and iron onto a shirt. In later years, they began selling sweatshirts. A sweatshirt from each year of the festival hung along the balcony at the arts center. Moore said she likes looking back on the history of the event through those sweatshirts.
Moore and the rest of the Kiwanis have been planning Winterfest since September – a large task for the 11 members in the chapter.
“We have many different volunteers to make it happen,” Moore said.
Of the many activities at Winterfest, Moore said she most enjoys the music performed by the high school jazz band and percussion.
Tabi Melton, of Spokane Valley, said she grew up in Deer Park and comes back for Winterfest every year, now with her husband, Dakotah, and their infant daughter, Isabella.
One activity the Meltons enjoy is the annual Christmas tree bonfire. Many folks in town bring their cut Christmas trees and drop them off in a pile behind the arts center. With supervision from the fire department, the pile of trees was lit at 6 p.m.
A fireworks display wrapped up the day.
“(I like) the community getting together,” Dakotah said. The community atmosphere “is a lot better than Spokane.”