The sirens blaring, the parade of vehicles slowly rumbling down Mossyrock’s State Street and the hundreds upon hundreds of onlookers gathered along the side of the road cheering it all on could only mean one thing: The Mossyrock Blueberry Festival was afoot.
This year marked the 13th anniversary for the annual festival that takes over Klickitat Prairie Park the first weekend of August. This year saw some growth and improvement from years’ past, said Tom Meade, one of the key organizers.
With over 50 food and product vendors and newly installed light poles adorning the park and keeping the place well-lit after dark, Meade said the festival boasted more variety and aesthetic improvements this time around.
During the parade Saturday morning, “no parking” signs were set up along State Street, giving people more space to stand and enjoy the nearly hour-long procession of area emergency vehicles and floats from local organizations and government entities. It was the first time they set up the signs, said Mossyrock Mayor Randall Sasser, adding that each year they look at ways to continually build up and improve the festival.
“Mossyrock is in a growth spurt right now,” said Sasser. “I mean, we have had more new home constructions going on in this last year than we’ve had in 40 years prior.”
That, coupled with Mossyrock’s location centered between the mountains, ocean, Seattle and Portland make it an ideal location, said Sasser, adding that the festival is a great time to show it all off. The city’s park is steadily becoming a even for of a hub for local events, too, he said. There will have been four music festivals there by year’s end — twice as many as the year before — and movie nights for kids in the park.
As Saturday’s temperatures were primed to hit the 80s, misters were set up through the park to provide some relief, said Meade.
For the first time, record-setting skydiver — and 1972 Mossyrock graduate — Tim Weible dove from a small plane and landed safely in the midst of festival goers.
The plane took off from Toledo after the parade wrapped up around noon. People started to gather at bleachers set up near the stage area — many of them standing, eyes to the sky, trying to spot the small plane as it circled the festival, appearing as a small dot in the blue skies.
A wayward balloon that got loose and floated upward fooled more than one person who mistakenly thought it was Weible’s parachute.
“Everybody’s interested in something falling from the sky. Hopefully he’s not falling too fast,” said Meade with a laugh.
After Weible made his jump, he circled the landing area a couple of times — a flapping American flag appearing as something like a cape. He landed and immediately started issuing high-fives to festival goers, and brought with him a letter of thanks to the Lewis County commissioners for their support of the festival.
Meade said planning for next year’s festival starts this week.