Issaquah’s ready for Downhome Fourth of July

June 29, 2010

By Elizabeth DeVos

Longtime Issaquah residents have always enjoyed the low-key, family friendly Downhome Fourth of July and Heritage Day event.

To start the day off, the Kids, Pets ‘N Pride Parade will begin at 11 a.m. starting at Rainier Avenue and Northwest Dogwood Street. Kids can decorate their bikes, wagons, pets or anything else they can think of in patriotic attire and be in the parade, which will end at Veteran’s Memorial Field, according to Robin Kelley, director of festivals.

Veterans’ Memorial Field will host a number of events throughout the day, including a pie-eating contest. It is unknown what kind of pie will be eaten.

“Our goal is that it’s something that is colorful and especially messy,” Kelley said. “Parents and kids sometimes compete against each other.”

Something that has been absent in the past few years from the city’s Fourth of July celebration has been the slug speed race and beauty pageant. The event was brought back this year because of the wet spring that has not been present the past few years.

“We expect there to be a bumper crop this year,” Kelley said. “It’s a perfect year to bring it back.”

Kids can dress up their favorite slug with glitter, neon paint, outfits or anything they can think of.

Slugs that aren’t ready to make their debut appearance can have their owners train them to be fast for their big race. These speed racers start their race in the center of a bull’s-eye and then race to the outside.

Other events include live music and a children’s entertainer, pony rides and three Wild West-themed inflatable toys for children to play on. Kids can enjoy a hay hunt, gunny sack races and other old-time games. There’s also the sky high rummage sale, arts and crafts, and nonprofit organizations will have booths on display.

All-American food, pizza, hot dogs, curly fries and other food will be available for purchase.

“We’ve watched kids over the years participate in the events,” Kelley said. “They are now helping volunteer with the games and races.”

For more fun, take a step back in time with the ninth annual Heritage Day from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. in and around the Issaquah Depot Museum, 50 Rainier Blvd. N., right next door to Veterans Memorial Field.

“We wanted some sort of event that gave kids hands-on events to see how different things were 100 years ago,” said Erica Maniez, director of the Issaquah History Museums. “It’s also a way to get kids excited about history.”

Heritage Day uses hands-on activities to demonstrate how things were done 100 years ago. Some stations include washing clothes, splitting cedar shingles with the help of adults, churning cream into butter, dressing in an historic wardrobe, pushing a coal cart to get the feeling of how heavy one is, learning how to use a stump puller and an adult favorite — a historic pump cart.

“I find that once we convince kids to come try old-fashioned laundry they usually enjoy it,” said Stephen Grate, Renton resident and Heritage Day volunteer. “We let kids wash kid’s clothes with a wash board and homemade lye soap, rinse the clothes with a hand wringer and hang them on a clothesline to dry.”

Each year, the activities change slightly, depending on what volunteers think younger generations would like. Last year, the scale replica of the coal car was added. A few years ago the stump puller was added.

Participants can pick up passports at the orientation booth before they take a step back in time. At each station, they will receive a stamp. After exploring the past, return to the booth for an old-fashioned candy treat.

Most events anybody can participate in, but the pump cart does have a height limit on it. While the event is geared toward children ages 3-12 some adults really get into the events, Maniez said.

The event is a great memory for people and becomes a tradition, Kelley said.

“We see families come back over the years,” she said.

Elizabeth DeVos: 392-6434 or Comment at

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