Opinion | Go to Block Party, learn about your downtown: What better way?

It’s hard to believe that North Bend’s Block Party is already in its fourth summer. It feels like that inaugural party in 2010 as just yesterday. It’s evolved so much already.

More than just a ‘staycation’ day for Valley families, events like the Block Party are inexpensive ways for local businesses to showcase themselves and what they do. While it’s a departure from the normal routine for the downtown businesses, these festivals are about more than just making sales the day of.

How many people, locals and visitors alike, learn something new about their downtowns, businesses, and their Valley at a Block Party, a Fourth of July, a Festival at Mount Si, or a Railroad Days?

These events are window on the community. No wonder business owners in Snoqualmie are pondering ways to start a Block Party of their own, or that local Kim Ewing is trying to restart a vendor’s market in Snoqualmie, or that university architecture students who visited Fall City want to create a Farmer’s market in that Lower Valley town—look at the successes in North Bend.

Building up a block party

Every time I attend one of these events, I hear how people get to meet neighbors they otherwise rarely meet.

At a festival, you discover more than just local bands, art talent and talented kids. You learn about the local environment, upcoming ballot measures, senior programs, special events and good causes like Relay for Life or the Snoqualmie Valley Veteran’s Memorial.

And, in an era when big changes are happening in local downtowns, what better way for locals to actually experience their downtowns, and learn for themselves what’s worth keeping and what’s worth changing? We actually need to use our downtowns to truly appreciate and understand them.

Events like these are about more than just helping kids beat the summer boredom. They’ll always be held in towns like these, because they always build community.

There are more events to come:

• Festival at Mount Si, August 9 to 11

• Snoqualmie Railroad Days, August 16 to 18

• Iron Horse Relay and Adventure Sport Festival in North Bend, September 7

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that these events constantly evolve. New faces and activities come into play, others move on. So there’s always a surprise to be found and a memory to be made.

This year’s block party lineup is different than last year, and I’ll admit I miss some of my favorites (call me nostalgic for strongmen contests and burger contests) but plenty of favorites are back, including the petting zoo that had hundreds of kids cooing over rabbits, and the Reptile Man, the younger Peterson, whose tortoise wandering North Bend Way drew plenty of curious folks of all ages. For me, Kyle Twede’s latest eating contest, this time a pancake scarfing entry, is the highlight, and I’m intrigued how this year’s gorgers will handle flapjacks without fatality—plenty of syrup, I’m guessing. For most grown-ups, I expect the draws are the live music, leading up to Spike and the Impalers. But families can find so many activities that the entire day promises a long afternoon of fun for everyone.

I’ll see you downtown.


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