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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community event

Deede Baugh throws candy to children while riding in the Holman Gardens Retirement bus in the Valleyfest parade last year.
 (File/ / The Spokesman-Review)

The grand experiment begins Saturday. Valleyfest had been held at Terrace View Park since its inception. Now in its 15th year, the community festival is being held at Mirabeau Meadows Park for the first time. The event was a victim of its own success, attracting 22,000 people last year, which caused traffic snarls and crowding.

Valleyfest organizers have been planning for months to fill the 10-acre park with events. All the old favorites are back – the pancake breakfast, the fun run and the vendors. There are new events as well, including a juried art show. The Valley YMCA, located next to Mirabeau Meadows and connected to it by a trail, will open its doors to the community from noon to 7 p.m.

The Y has always been involved in Valleyfest, said director Steve Jurich. “With the proximity being at our back door, it makes sense to increase our involvement,” he said.

All of the Y’s facilities will be open free of charge Saturday. Special classes will be held, and basketball and volleyball games are planned. The band 10 Minutes Down will also perform.

The number of nonprofit and commercial vendors has been hard to nail down, with applications and phone calls coming daily. All the booths will have free activities for children. There also will be arts and crafts vendors. This year the food vendors will expand their offerings after people last year asked for more diversity, said organizer Peggy Doering. “It was mostly hot dogs, pizza – kids’ food.”

The basic format will remain the same, with entertainment all day on two stages. The main stage will close with a performance by Tuxedo Junction Big Band from 4 to 6 p.m. The main parade is also returning but will begin at 9 a.m. at the University City Mall and follow a new route north on University and east on Mission to Valley Mission Park. Railroad tracks and other access issues prevented the parade from being held near Mirabeau Meadows. The theme of this year’s parade is Dr. Seuss on Parade.

The fun run is also back, but this year it will follow the Centennial Trail from the Valley Mall to Mirabeau Meadows. Check-in for the 1.5 mile race will be at 7:30 a.m. at the Sullivan Trailhead. The event is free unless participants want an $8 T-shirt. Entry forms are available at Yoke’s at 15111 E. Sprague Ave. and 9320 E. Montgomery Ave.

The pancake breakfast will be served in the Mirabeau Meadows picnic shelter from 8 to 11:30 a.m. ($4.50 adults, $3.50 for children). The booths and entertainment open at 10 a.m. and run until 6 p.m. There will be pony rides, numerous inflatables and an obstacle course. Doering has recruited a science teacher to create a Fear Factor-type game for teens. “She asked for a wading pool and ice, so I don’t know what she’s doing,” Doering said.

A lot of attention was put into retaining the event’s small-town feel even as it grows larger. “The charm and the beauty of Valleyfest has always been the neighborhood feel,” she said. “That’s one reason why the parade is going down University.”

All the games and events are free. The only expenses will be food and any products people purchase at the booths. “We have generous contributors who reach into their pockets” to make sure everything is free, Doering said.

Children in grades K-5 are invited to dress up as their favorite Dr. Seuss character and participate in a Whos in Whoville parade in the park. Participants should meet at the main stage at 2 p.m. “I have some kids who are going to lead a little drum line,” Doering said.

More than 20 artists have signed up for the art show. Some of them will be selling their work.

There is a word of warning about parking, however. The limited parking available at the park will be reserved for the handicapped. Mirabeau Parkway will be closed in front of the park to everyone except vendors, shuttle buses and the handicapped. People will still be able to access the Valley YMCA on the south side of the park.

An STA shuttle bus will drop people off at the park from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The buses will be large and able to accommodate riders in wheelchairs. People can board the bus at the Valley Mall at 10 different locations in the parking lots (look for signs). The bus will also stop at the Pinecroft Business Park at Pines and Mirabeau Parkway. People may also park at Trent Elementary and Mirabeau Chapel, both at Pines and Mirabeau Parkway, and cross Pines to catch the shuttle bus at Pinecroft.

While many people are still wondering how well Valleyfest will do in its new location, Doering is already figuring out what new events she can add in 2005. “Next year CenterPlace will be open for us,” she said. “We’ll be expanding out that way.”