The Boistfort Valley doesn’t have a city government to organize its Fourth of July celebration. But that doesn’t stop the tiny Lewis County community from throwing one of the best parties around.
That’s thanks to Rene and Susan Remund, who for decades have hosted friends and neighbors at their Boistfort farm — a gathering that’s grown to hundreds of people.
“In various forms, it’s gone on for 40 years,” said Rene Remund, who noted that the shindig ranges from lifelong friends to “people we don’t know from Adam.” “It grew from four families to 10 families, and then more people with guests came. It just basically got a little larger and a little larger and a little larger.”
For an event that’s mostly known through word of mouth, the Boistfort party is an impressive affair, on par with any civic endeavor. By late afternoon Thursday, a large field had filled up with cars, dozens of kids were playing Wiffle ball nearby and families helped themselves to food and beverages — many brought in potluck-style — as music played over the speakers.
Out in a field, Rene Remund and his daughter, Lindsey Pollock, were putting the finishing touches on the fireworks display they’ve been preparing since Easter.
“These are the best fireworks in the county,” said Ron Averill, a former county commissioner who’s been attending the Boistfort event for well more than a decade.
Remund is a licensed pyrotechnician, and the family pays out of its own pocket to put on a fireworks show on par with any professional event. As she tested the wiring on a control panel in a wooden hut nearby, Pollock said she always looks forward to lighting off the fireworks.
“This is my one artistic endeavor,” she said. “I tend to be pretty science-oriented. This is my opportunity to design a color show.”
More than a few attendees commented that the fireworks show is legendary, and Remund said it’s worth the effort to put it on.
“Fireworks is just something for children who never grew up,” he said.
Pollock added that the process of preparing the show is intensive but rewarding.
“It’s a multi-month adventure, and then it’s a mad dash for the last couple weeks or so,” she said.
Still, Remund said the gathering is about more than just fireworks, bringing together a community and remembering the reason for the holiday. Every event includes a recitation of the Declaration of Independence, he said.
“It fits into being part of the rhythm of a more remote, rural area,” he said. “It’s not just food and fireworks, it also has the purpose of really being an introduction to patriotism and history. … I’d say most of the people are conservative who come, but we also have some flaming liberals, and that’s really the whole point.”
Indeed, many of Lewis County’s leaders were in attendance, from Averill to Chehalis city councilor Dr. Isaac Pope to former county GOP chair Olga Miller to prominent attorney and former state Rep. J. Vander Stoep. The hobnobbing wasn’t limited to the politicians, as friends and neighbors mingled cheerily with beverages in hand.
“This is really unique,” said John Panesko, a friend of the Remunds who has been attending for years. “Boistfort has its own community, but this gathering extends beyond that. It brings people from all walks of life together, just to find out how much we have in common. … It’s good to renew acquaintances. There are people you don’t see except here.”
One first-time guest was Naimbet Medina, who had been naturalized as an American citizen during a ceremony earlier in the day, before heading to Boistfort to celebrate.
“What could be better than to celebrate American Independence Day and to celebrate my new birth as an American citizen? I’m going to have an anniversary day I’m never going to forget,” she said. “(This event) is pretty amazing. You see all kinds of people. Some are familiar faces I’ve seen in the community, and some are new faces. It’s a pretty neat event. Everybody keeps talking about the fireworks show, so I’m excited to see that.”
Though the party draws people from all over Lewis County, the hosts said it’s special to put it on in Boistfort, a tight-knit community far from the county’s larger population centers. Remund recalled the way the valley came together during the 2007 flood, when they had eight feet of water in their house. That community spirit, so evident when times are hard, is worth celebrating when times are good, he said.
“There’s a long history of the community coming together for different major functions,” Pollock added.