Duvall Days Festival returns with focus on music

Local legend Denny Redman serves as Grand Marshal.

By Benjamin Floyd, For the Valley Record

The overcast skies this past Saturday did little to stop hundreds of people from enjoying the 64th annual Duvall Days Festival. The long-running celebration returned this year with the parade, fireworks and the Riverview School District art exhibit, among other offerings May 31 and June 1. This iteration saw a record number vendors and sponsors, a success reflected on the hundreds of faces up and down Main Street.

This year saw an expansion of the live music performances, with three stages set throughout downtown. Happy festivalgoers enjoyed the music of larger acts, including Cytrus, Whalien and Eden. Festivalgoers might have also seen familiar faces on stage, with acts from Elizabeth Hill and The Valley Folk, the homegrown pop trio Three Moons, as well as country artist Vinnie Norlan. The latter, an 18-year-old town local with a promising knack for entertaining, was incredibly thankful for the opportunity that Duvall Days offered.

“It’s awesome that I was able to get out there and show more people what music means to me, and it’s even cooler that I got to share it with the town that helped me grow,” Norlan said.

This increased focus on music comes under the leadership of Morgan Henley, the executive director on this year’s planning committee. A lifelong resident of the Valley and owner of well-established production company Morgan Henley Presents, Henley is thankful for the opportunity to uplift local artists.

“It’s a very loving and caring and helpful kind of event we have going on,” Henley said. “We are all doing it to celebrate our culture and heritage here in the Snoqualmie Valley. It’s an honor to be the lead role in it.”

Denny Redman

Perhaps one of the most amazing artists present at Duvall Days was not on stage, but instead sat atop a red sports car in the parade — this year’s Grand Marshal, Denny Redman.

Denny Redman was born in Ellensburg in 1943 and spent his childhood and early adult years throughout Montana and North Dakota, graduating from North Dakota State University in Fargo. Like many young people of his generation connected to the hippie movement, Redman’s easygoing attitude and love for humanity lead him around the world. Redman saw the 1967 World Expo in Montreal, was scolded by Eamon De Velera’s daughter for trespassing at Galway University in Ireland, and rode the Orient Express to Greece. He helped smuggle Mercedes Benz cars across the Turkish border (in good faith, of course), swam in the Caspian Sea, and founded a lifelong connection to the people and culture of Afghanistan. Back in the U.S., Denny rode the freight rails from Dilworth, Minnesota, all the way to Auburn, Washington, and called an old friend for a ride to Seattle.

And, after all of that, he found his way to Duvall in 1971.

Led here by his friendship and business partnership with Gary Eagle and Larry Van Over (the very same Van Over who orchestrated the piano drop of 1968), Redman remembers a Duvall very different from today.

“Duvall was an enclave for long hairs… you would call us hippies. There wasn’t much going on, just Dutch farmers and loggers, and all of us … we would go skinny-dipping out in Cherry Creek and have dances and parties at the old hall tucked in the woods there,” said Redman, referring to the Cherry Creek Falls Event Center.

I went to visit Denny at his home the day before the celebration. His property is the finest reflection of his character: hand-built, eclectic, and 100 percent rad. He toured me around his blacksmithing forge, his music studio, as well as his blooming garden beds and greenhouses. His home is a gallery of art and creation, internationally and locally source. He showed me a paper beetroot crown from this year’s March of the Vegetables, gifted to him by local artist Paula Strobel, whom Denny introduced as “the finest artist you can find here.”

Denny showed me old film footage of a wedding he officiated between two friends: Sky Mustang, an Apache medicine man, and an English woman he had met on his travels abroad who had come to visit. In the grainy, sunbathed footage taken somewhere in the forests of the foothills, Denny pointed himself out, complete with a thick chevron mustache and a white robe.

“That’s actually an Afghani shirt, the long white thing I’ve got on. Us long hair hippies didn’t really wear a lot of button-ups, so that’s the best I had for the special occasion,” he said.

Denny cited Ralph Taylor, an original pioneer of Duvall, as one of the memorable figures in his first few years here. Taylor would inspire Redman to join the historic society and become a force of civic engagement. Denny wrote for the “Local Drizzle” newspaper, owned the Melody Ranch guitar store, and has been at the heart of the arts scene of Duvall for 50 years.

It is in local community members such as Morgan Henley that the love for local art and history continues. Denny was lifelong friends with Henley’s parents, Hippie Henley Henn Haus and Sally Canfield, and one of the earliest characters in Henley’s memory of his childhood.

“I remember him and a bunch of the other old-timers being the center of the whole music and arts scene here in town. I’m carrying the torch into the future to keep the history and culture of our past alive. Especially now, when our demographics are changing, and lots of new people are coming into the Valley, to be able to showcase our history and culture is a real privilege,” Henley shared.

Spanning from Ralph Taylor to Vinnie Norlan, it is fair to say that the tradition of music, community, and Valley spirit is well alive.