Brian Mittge Commentary: Summer Festival Food — Who Does it Best?


We’re hitting our stride in Lewis County with the annual summer parade and festival season. Our diverse agricultural heritage has given us a wonderful range of events that directly tie to foodstuffs.

We kick off the summer every year with Egg Days in Winlock, featuring free egg salad sandwiches.

This weekend the good folks down the road in Toledo will have Cheese Days, also featuring free sandwiches (cheese, of course.)

Later this summer Mossyrock will welcome us for their Blueberry Festival, featuring all manner of treats and activities centered around their community’s central edible farm product. (The vast swaths of tulips at DeGoede Bulb Farm & Gardens are a feast for the eyes each spring, but not so much for the palate.)

In October my hometown of Onalaska holds its Apple Harvest Festival, with delicious apple pies and other products made from the bounty of the region’s venerable orchards.

In Pe Ell last weekend, they served up strawberry shortcake in connection with their Fourth of July parade.

And the biggest little event of the summer, the Southwest Washington Fair, is perhaps the tastiest of them all, with delicacies ranging from elephant ears and scones to the best deal on the Midway, the Rotary corn-on-the-cob booth. (By the way, the good folks at Rotary are always looking for folks to help run their corn booth. Contact your local Rotarian to get in on the action.)

A few other big festivals don’t have an obvious food tie-in, but they still provide some sensory rewards.

The Morton Logger’s Jubilee offers the fine aroma of chain oil and sawdust along with feats of timber derring-do.

The many fine celebrations we just witnessed on the Fourth of July in Centralia, Mossyrock and Packwood provide the savory smell of freedom. And the echoing booms of fireworks.

With all that said, the best food of the summer, according to my kids, has nothing to do with our agricultural heritage. It’s the candy tossed or handed out at parades. You can’t beat the feeling, or taste, of a free Jolly Rancher.

Whatever your taste of summer, I hope it’s a delicious treat for you as we continue to emerge — battered but victorious — from a few years of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. Enjoy!


Your Chance to be Budget-Wise

Last year I had the honor of serving as a volunteer member of the Lewis County Citizens Budget Committee.

It was an eye-opening opportunity to learn about all the projects that fall under the umbrella of county government, and to see how our local public servants (or bureaucrats, if you see them that way) do the hard, detailed work of putting together the budget that pays for the services we use.

I was impressed with the information available. This isn’t a secret process. In fact, every official and public employee I met during the process was eager to explain everything to the public. They crave the involvement and input of regular folks.

After several months of gathering information and asking questions, we as members of the citizens committee were invited to submit our own input and guidance for the three elected county commissioners. They weren’t required to take implement our suggestions, but they all listened respectfully and carefully to what we had to say.

I respected the county leaders for supporting the citizens committee and I was deeply impressed with the county employees who put the budget together.

If you’re interested in learning more, application packets for the Citizens Budget Committee are available at the “BOCC News” section at the bottom of the commissioners’ web page at or email, but hurry — applications are due by 3 p.m. July 15. 

I know there’s a lot of attention at the national level and strong partisan feelings about federal government, but most of the “government” we encounter in our daily life is much more local. I encourage you to get involved in helping learn about and shape our county government. This committee is a great place to start.


Dad Joke of the Week

I love elephant ears at the fair, but some people don’t care about them at all. And so ...

Q: What do you call an elephant that doesn’t matter?

A: An irrelephant.


What’s your favorite taste of summer and your top festival? Send your feedback to