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

Organizers say Valleyfest attendance up

The final numbers aren’t in yet, but Valleyfest organizers say attendance was up at Saturday’s community festival.

The annual event was held in Mirabeau Meadows for the first time. Previous festivals had been in Terrace View Park. Last year’s extravaganza attracted an estimated 22,000 people.

“I was very pleased with the park and the weather,” organizer Peggy Doering said. “We were more spread out than last year. People just kept coming.”

Those people were hungry. The pancake breakfast ran short on food, and by 5 p.m. most food vendors were running out of food as well.

The parade seemed to be fairly well-attended, but the crowd was sparse near the center of the new route. “It was three or four deep the first few blocks, and it was full at the end on Mission,” Doering said. “There aren’t a lot of side streets there where they can park and walk to the corner.”

The main hitch was parking. Traffic near Mirabeau Meadows was snarled at the beginning of the day when many people arrived for the start of the festival, said Sgt. Martin O’Leary, of the Spokane Valley Police Department.

The park itself has only 60 parking spaces, and no parking is available along Mirabeau Parkway, which curves around the park. Valleyfest organizers tried to spread the word that STA shuttle buses would pick people up from various locations and bring them to the park. Police closed the road near the park and were only letting buses, vendors and people with disabilities through.

“A lot of people didn’t get that message,” O’Leary said. “They wanted to get through, and they wanted to park up close.”

Doering said that some people bluffed their way past the police barricades by saying they were vendors unloading supplies.

“We had teenagers down there, and they were just overrun,” she said. “(City Councilman) Mike Flanigan took over the front gate for me. I now have a parking committee for next year.”

Doering also anticipates tinkering with the layout of the booths next year to make maximum use of the available shade. She’s already considering renting a large tent or two. “Until the trees get bigger there, we’re going to need shade.”

The open house at the nearby Valley YMCA was also a success, said YMCA director Steve Jurich. He estimates 2,000 people took advantage of the free access to Y classes and facilities that day. The pools seemed to be the main attraction. “We had a lot of new faces at the skate park, too,” he said.

The Y signed up a few new members Saturday. “I think we got to show off the Y and what we do, so I think there’s more long-term benefit than we saw that day.”

Doering said she hasn’t heard any negative feedback about the festival. “We maintained the integrity of what Valleyfest is – a genuine community event.”