Downtown Chehalis will transform Saturday, July 27 into the all-encompassing celebration known as ChehalisFest. The streets will be full of familiar attractions, such as the 12th annual Chariots Car Club Show on Chehalis Avenue and the 8 a.m. pancake breakfast served by the City Council at the Lewis County Historical Museum, as well as some newcomers to the scene.

A beer garden hosted by the Market Street Pub on Boistfort Street will take up about half of the space cordoned off for live musical acts to perform throughout the day. The expanded KidZone experience has been relocated to Chehalis Avenue, where the Boys and Girls Club of Chehalis will oversee activities ranging from inflatables to chalk art.

Expanding the entertainment and interactive offerings for ChehalisFest has been a focus the Chehalis Community Renaissance Team, which is in its third year of running point for the annual event. Annalee Tobey, executive director of the CCRT, said that while it’s taken some time for the organization to fully get its hands around producing the festival, they’re starting to forge the partnerships needed to take it to the next level.

“Last year, we worked on bringing in more vendors and food trucks, and this year we’re excited to work with the pub to bring back that evening entertainment,” Tobey said. “It’s been a few years since there was that beer garden and music event downtown, and we really wanted to bring back some of that classic summer fun. Every year, we’re pulling in new partners that help make this event better than the prior year, and it’s only possible because of partnerships we have with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, like the museum and the pub, that allow us to expand.”

Aspects of ChehalisFest itself will expand outside of downtown and across Interstate 5 this year. As in years past, the Experimental Aircraft Association will be offering free Young Eagles flights for children ages 8-17 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Chehalis-Centralia Airport. New this year will be a section of the facility featuring family-friendly activities such as food trucks and a display from the Chehalis Fire Department.

Students and teachers from W.F. West High School are volunteering to run STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities for children while they wait for their turn to take to the skies. FORMA Construction, which recently built new elementary schools in Chehalis and Centralia, donated shirts for the volunteers and funds to help offset the cost of fuel for the pilots.

“The airport is doing more of the ChehalisFest-type thing to try to have more activities for the kids and their families to do while they wait for their block of time to fly,” said Brandon Rakes, operations coordinator for the Chehalis-Centraila Airport. “Instead of waiting in a long line or a long time, they can walk around, get something to eat, do some activities, and they’ll know when their assigned time is, so they can visit some of the other things that are going on.”

Other activities scheduled to be part of ChehalisFest include the Gambler 500 Poker Run, which begins at 8 a.m. at Yard Birds, and train rides through the Chehalis Valley operated by the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum. The Port of Chehalis sponsored 200 free train tickets, which were made available beginning July 10 at the Lewis County Historical Museum. 

Artists affiliated with ARTrails of Southwest Washington will have their work on display alongside numerous sales, contests and promotions lining the downtown streets.

For more information and a full schedule of events, visit facebook.com/ChehalisFest.

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