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Opinion >  Column

Front Porch: Finding some Spokane fun

Cindy Hval smiles for the camera with husband Derek at Crave.  (Courtesy photo)
Cindy Hval smiles for the camera with husband Derek at Crave. (Courtesy photo)

I’m an unabashed hometown girl.

I love Spokane (except for the potholes), and in 40-plus years of living here, I’m still finding new things to do.

In July, Derek and I attended two quintessential outdoor Spokane events.

First, we finally made it to a Sunday summer concert at Arbor Crest. Though we’ve visited the winery many times, we’d never made it to an outdoor concert. When we saw one of our favorite local bands was scheduled for July 10, we quickly bought tickets.

The Sara Brown Band plays R&B tunes with a soulful edge that usually gets us out on the dance floor at least for a few songs.

At Arbor Crest, you can bring a picnic or buy a meal there. We opted to picnic and while I packed a cooler with salamis, cheeses, olives and chocolate, Derek fetched our folding camp chairs.

We arrived early to find a good spot. That’s when we discovered Derek had accidentally grabbed our bleacher seats instead of chairs.

No worries. The winery provides plenty of plastic lawn chairs.

With our spot staked, we sampled a wine flight and purchased a couple of bottles of Fume Blanc – one to enjoy with our picnic and one to take home.

The evening proved spectacular. Just enough sun to make us welcome sunset’s arrival, fabulous music and fun chatting with fellow concert goers.

The following weekend, we attended the final night of Crave! Northwest a three-night foodie extravaganza showcasing the best of the area’s food and drink. The event offers an opportunity for chefs, breweries, and winemakers to connect with each another while serving fantastic food to the public. It’s also a great way for attendees to discover local chefs and restaurants.

Saturday’s “Fire and Smoke” night at Spokane Valley’s CenterPlace quickly sold out, and no wonder. Billed as a “culinary adventure of smoked and fired foods,” my home-grilling king only stopped smiling long enough to chew and swallow.

We sampled smoked ribs with apple chutney from Tracy Rose of the Coeur d’Alene Casino, smoked steelhead, from Peter Froese of Gander and Ryegrass, and beef and pork wood-fired meatballs with charred Pomodoro sauce, from Aaron Fiorini of Market Street Pizza.

Then we tasted pork shoulder, smoked tri-tip, grilled jalapeno poppers, and more!

Of course, there was plenty of swill to wash it all down with. We saw our friends from No-Li Brewhouse and Barrister Winery and grabbed ice-cold bottles of water upon entry.

We needed the hydration, as it was a sizzling evening, but the venue offered some shady spots and a cool misting fan or two.

Two back-to-back, action-packed weekends made us perfectly content to enjoy our own backyard the following week, but we’re so glad we got to partake of some of the best fun our area has to offer.

While I enjoy all four seasons in the Inland Northwest; Spokane truly shines in the summer.

Mealtime prayers

In my last column about saying grace before meals I invited readers to share their mealtime prayers.

• Larry Goehner, 94, grew up in the ’30s on a farm in North Dakota, the offspring of German grandparents who homesteaded the farm in 1900. His dad prayed over every meal in German.

“That was followed by a four-word prayer that we kids had to say, ‘Thank you loving Father. Amen’ in German, of course,” wrote Goehner. “Now, when it’s my turn to say the table prayer I use this simple one: ‘Thank you God for food, family and friends. And bless this meal for all to enjoy. In Jesus name, Amen.’ ”

• Kevin Eaton said the column brought back some fun memories of his father.

“Dad. When eating leftovers for the third time remarked, ‘I’ve prayed over this twice already. Don’t think a third time will help!’ ”

• And Phil Zammit had a thoughtful take on oft-repeated prayers.

“Saying grace and offering thanksgiving before dinner is a most noble acknowledgment of our awesome creator God. The thing I wrestle with is with 90% of dinners I’ve attended in over a three score and ten lifespan, they are simply ritual jingles not an honest thanksgiving/blessing request prayer,” he wrote. “My point is if you really intend to thank God for dinner, say what you mean and mean what you say. Put your heart and mind into it! I never repeat the same thanksgiving and blessing except for ‘in Jesus name’ at the end.”

Do you have a favorite Spokane summer outing or event? We’d like to hear about it and why you enjoy it. Email Cindy Hval at Please include your contact information. Your feedback may be included in a future column.

Cindy Hval can be reached at Hval is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation” (Casemate Publishers, 2015) available on Amazon and bookstores nationwide.

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