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River Festival, parade kick off summer fun in St. Helens

PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN BREWINGTON - A contingent of Girl Scouts makes its way down Columbia Boulevard during the annual St. Helens Kiwanis Day Parade on Saturday, June 18.PHOTO COURTESY OF PATRICIA TRAPP - Columbia County Commissioner Henry Heimuller (left) and River Festival organizer John Brewington, both members of the St. Helens Kiwanis Club, take a break amid the carnival atmosphere in downtown St. Helens.Crowds turned out in St. Helens from Thursday, June 16, through Saturday, June 18, for a lineup that included 13 Nights on the River, the St. Helens Kiwanis Day Parade and the return of the St. Helens River Festival.

The River Festival was the first of its kind on the banks of the Columbia River in St. Helens for several years, harkening back to the time of the city’s St. Helions Days and Port-O-Fun festivals that largely drew to a halt in the late 1980s.

Vernae Attrash, president of the St. Helens Kiwanis Club, said she thought the riverfront festival’s return was successful.

“You know, I think it went pretty good for being back for the first year,” she said. “We did run into a few hiccups that we’re working on for next year.”

Friday night’s attendance at the carnival was less than expected, she PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN BREWINGTON - Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, waves to the crowd on Columbia Boulevard on Saturday, June 18, during the annual St. Helens Kiwanis Day Parade. added, but said The Wieners, a legendary south Columbia County classic rock band, had a strong Saturday draw.

“Saturday night, the Wieners brought out a fantastic crowd, and we’re just excited for everybody who came out and enjoyed,” Attrash said.

The festival and beer garden were fundraising events for the St. Helens Kiwanis. Official fundraising figures were not available as of press time Thursday.