Family-friendly events planned at Sacajawea State Park

Sacajawea State Park’s serene beauty will be a bit livelier in June as two groups hold popular annual events there early in the month.

The Friends of Sacajawea State Park will have its annual Old Fashioned Day from noon to 4 p.m. June 4.

“It’s a family event featuring simple games like a bean bag toss, potato sack races and scavenger hunts,” said Sharon Stewart, the events coordinator for the group.

“It’s just a good old-fashioned day, with activities to entice families out to the park, out in the fresh air, to get people to realize it’s a great place to play games as a family.”

Big Top the Clown will twist balloons into animals and other shapes, Ghormley Meadow Christian Camp will have relay races; officers from Pasco Police and Franklin County Sheriff’s departments will give safety tips; and the Northwest Historians will reenact life as it was many, many decades ago.

Ye Olde Car Club of the Tri-Cities will also display several Model A and T vehicles during the day. And the Kennewick Lions Club will sell hot dogs and donuts.

There is no admission charge for Old Fashioned Day and no need for state park Discover Pass to enter or park at Sacajawea during the event.

The Kennewick Lions will be selling hot dogs and donuts.

Old Fashioned Day is also a way for the Friends of Sacajawea State Park to promote the park.

The Friends of Sacajawea State Park formed three years ago with just 10 people who noticed the park needed some special attention.

“We realized our parks, because of all the cutbacks in funding, were going downhill,” said Stewart. “The park service simply didn’t have the money for upkeep. And we didn’t want to lose our beautiful park.”

The group’s Old Fashioned Day began as an Old Fashioned Fourth of July, but didn’t draw the attendance from the community that they’d hoped.

“So we moved the celebration back into June and we had 300 people turn out last year,” she said. “We are hoping for even more this June.”

This year, the Friends of Sacajawea State Park partnered with the Daughters of the Pioneers who have organized an annual picnic at the park for decades.

“They were the ones who started the park in 1927,” Steward said. “They turned it over to the Washington State Park system in 1931 and it was the state that named it Sacajawea.”

Stewart said the group chose the name because the park is at a spot where Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery Expedition spent several days camping. The state named it after the only woman in the group in Honor of the Daughters of the Pioneers.

For more information, go to friendsofsacajaweastatepark.org or find them on Facebook.

Sacajawea Bluegrass Festival and Dutch Oven Rendezvous

For nearly a decade, old-time fiddle music, savory campfire cooking and the camaraderie of fellow musicians had lured 500 to 800 people to Sacajawea State Park each summer.

On June 10-12, the Mid-Columbia Traditional Arts & Music Association will once again play host to the Sacajawea Bluegrass Festival and Dutch Oven Rendezvous under the tall shade trees of the historic park.

This year’s headliners are the Henhouse Prowlers from Chicago and the O’Connor Family Band featuring Mark O’Connor.

“We feel really lucky to have signed up these two nationally-known bands,” said Reade Obern of the MCTAMA. “The Henhouse Prowlers have a lot of experience and Mark O’Connor is one of the most famous fiddlers in the United States. He’s played with symphonies and in movies, as well as concerts.”

Mark O’Connor splits his time between his home in Nashville and New York. This is one of his first appearances on the West coast.

Other bands being featured at the festival are North Country Bluegrass and the Downtown Mountain Boys.

Many other bluegrass musicians will attend the festival and the popular Dutch oven cooking demonstration on Saturday. A variety of music workshops are available, including one just for young musicians.

“We’re also planning a band scramble, something that’s traditional at a bluegrass festival,” said Obern.

The Sacajawea Bluegrass Festival and Dutch Oven Rendezvous opens at 5 p.m. on Friday. There is an open mic session from 5-6 p.m. with the various concerts running from 6:15-10 p.m. Go to www.mctama.org for a complete schedule or find the festival on Facebook.

Saturday is the busiest day of the bluegrass festival with workshops, a Dutch oven demonstration and more music. There will be a variety of music workshops from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a special workshop for youths 15 years of age and younger from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. This is run by the Oregon Bluegrass organization and is an introduction to bluegrass and to musical instruments in general, said Obern.

“They’ll be taught a song during the workshop and then go up on stage and perform at 1 p.m.,” said Obern said, adding that the students will need to be accompanied by a parent.

At 1:30 p.m. there will be a band scramble. Musicians throw their names in a hat and then their names are drawn out at random creating impromptu bands.

“They get a certain amount of time to practice together then go onstage and play three songs each. It’s a competition and the winner is chosen from the volume of cheering from the crowd. Band scrambles are a longstanding tradition at bluegrass festivals,” Obern said.

After the band scramble the Saturday concerts start, usually about 1:15 p.m. and go on until the park closes at 10 p.m.

Saturday’s Dutch oven demonstration runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There won’t be any food sampling, but onlookers will be able to get a lot of practical advice on Dutch oven cooking from the experienced cooks.

Sunday starts with a gospel sing along at 10 a.m. followed by a gospel concert from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. when the festival closes.

To enter the state park you will need a Discovery Pass or pay $10 per car per day.

“But the annual Discovery Pass is the way to go. It costs just $30 and is good for admission to all state parks for a year,” said Obern.

Anyone camping at the park won’t need a Discovery Pass, they just need to pay the $13 per day camping fee. Camping is on a first come basis and they’re allowed to go in and set up beginning at 10 a.m. on June 9.

A lot of people come to camp and play informally with their friends at night after the park closes.

“Even a lot of non-musicians come to camp and take their lawn chairs from place to place in the campground and to listen to the impromptu music played in the campground at all hours,” Obern said.

A three-day pass to the Sacajawea Bluegrass Festival is $35 per person; youths 15 years of age and under are free if accompanied by an adult. Single day passes are $18 for Friday, $25 for Saturday and $15 for Sunday.

Passes are available through the MCTAMA website, mctama.org and at Ranch and Home store, 845 N. Columbia Center Blvd., Kennewick.

There will be a variety of food vendors on site, as well as booths offering musical instruments and some arts and crafts.

Sacajawea State Park

Sacajawea State Park is open during the spring and summer from 6:30 a.m. to dusk. It closes for the winter on Oct. 29 and reopens March 28.

The Sacajawea Interpretive Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. It closes for the season Nov. 1.

The park has many outdoor self-guided interpretive displays, as well as framework representations of Native American dwellings. Along with the on-site Sacajawea Interpretive Center, the park provides guided tours by a park interpretive specialist. For times and dates, call the park at 509-337-6457.

The park is five miles southeast of Pasco at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers in Franklin County. From Pasco: Drive east on Highway 12 toward Walla Walla. Take a right on Tank Farm Road and continue across the railroad tracks. The park is at 2503 Sacajawea Park Road.

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