Organizers of the 29th annual Valleyfest community festival being held this weekend are trying to encourage children to reach for the stars by bringing in a NASA exhibit to inspire them.
The NASA, Robotics and STEM Showcase will run from noon to 5 p.m. in the CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Way. The NASA exhibit includes a display describing the International Space Station, space food, an Apollo suit and helmet from the 1960s, a model of the Space Shuttle and an astronaut’s glove that people can try on.
Valleyfest director Peggy Doering said she’s bringing in the NASA exhibit to celebrate astronaut Anne McClain from Spokane, who is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station in December.
“We need to tell the kids at Valleyfest that you can dream and go to space,” she said.
McLain’s mother also loaned Valleyfest pictures of her daughter, but McClain herself will not be there. “She’s actually in training right now in Russia, so she’s not very available for Valleyfest,” Doering said.
NASA ambassador Joe Bruce will give 45-minute presentations on NASA every hour on the hour from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. The NASA exhibit will be open the entire weekend and then will move to the Mobius Science Center, where it will be on display through Dec. 30.
Valleyfest is a three-day event that begins Friday with the Hearts of Gold parade down Sprague Avenue between Gillis Road and Perrine Road beginning at 7:30 p.m. The parade will be preceded by the Lions Club Bed Race at 6:15 p.m.
Events on Saturday and Sunday will be held at CenterPlace and the adjacent Mirabeau Meadows Park. Saturday’s events start with a pancake breakfast from 7-10 a.m. at the park, a car show at CenterPlace beginning at 9 a.m. and booths, food and live entertainment in the park from 10 am. to 6 p.m.
Sunday’s events include Tot Fest at CenterPlace with games and activities from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Responsible Dog Ownership Day in the park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Booths and live entertainment will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the park.
One of the highlights of the entertainment this year is a performance by Seattle-based TRIBE-olution, which is paid for by a Washington State Arts Commission grant. The group will present the history of hip-hop in African, Brazilian and Asian cultures. “They’re going to be a fun dance exhibition,” she said.
Other performers will include the Inland Northwest Dance Association, the Justin James Band, Manix (who sings in six languages), Northwest Hula, Mariachi Las Aguilas, the Redneck Bees and Nu Jack City.
“I’m very pleased in the diversity of the arts we were able to get this year,” Doering said.
The hot air balloons, which have been featured at Valleyfest for the past nine years, will not be returning this year, Doering said. The volunteer running that program stepped down and no replacement could be found, she said. Valleyfest is also the same weekend as the long-running hot air balloon festival in Prosser, Washington, which attracts many of the top balloon pilots every year.
“You have a limited number of hot air balloon pilots,” Doering said. “That’s not happening this year, but we had a good run.”
The kayaks that used to be featured in the triathlon that starts at 8 a.m. Sunday are back this year. In years past Valleyfest would arrange for rental kayaks, but that became difficult, Doering said. “It just became an equipment issue,” she said.
This year triathlon participants are responsible for providing their own kayaks, whether they rent or own it. “People who had done the kayaking kept asking us to bring it back,” she said.
Also new this year is the Swinging in the Valley country dance competition Saturday from 8 to 11 p.m. at CenterPlace. The event is run by LiteFeet and Country Swing and the competition is open to people of all skill levels.
“We’re going to start out kind of small this year,” Doering said of the dance competition. “We’re going to try that this year and see.”
Admission to Valleyfest is free, but pre-registration and fees are required for some events, including the dance competition and the triathlon. Visit
On-site parking is extremely limited. Spokane Transit Authority will run a free shuttle between the park, CenterPlace and the Spokane Valley Mall from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Look for shuttle bus signs on Indiana Avenue at the mall. Those who use Uber can use the code “VALLEYFEST” to get a discount. The Uber drop-off and pick-up point is CenterPlace.
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