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Nostalgia, community support, shape Summerfest's evolution

This year's festival returns June 26-27 with carnival


FILE - A child dons lumberjack attire and hauls logs in his float for the 2014 Summerfest junior parade.When she was 16, Janet Williams helped assemble her first float for the Scappoose Pow Wow Festival. As a parent, she put both of her kids in the festival’s Junior Parade.

Later this month, Williams will watch her grandson participate in the Junior Parade.

The generations of tradition steeped in Scappoose’s signature summer event instilled a sense of community pride in Williams, who is now one of the decades-old festival’s main organizers.

Williams, along with Renee Pizzo and Dianna Holmes, have taken on the labor of love that is Scappoose Summerfest.

Reincarnated last year from its previous moniker, Scappoose Pow Wow, the festival now offers two days of live music, parades, vendors, a dog show, rock climbing wall, beer garden and, this year, the return of a carnival, all at Veterans Park Friday and Saturday, June 26 to Sunday, June 27.

“We listened to the community last year about what was missing,” Williams said. “One of the biggest parts of the festival, the carnival, was missing last year.”

Williams and fellow volunteer organizers said they couldn’t secure the carnival last year, but they managed to book it for this year’s festival.

FILE - Girls carry a Girl Scouts banner during a Scappoose Pow Wow parade in 1979.Scappoose Summerfest is a fundraiser for the Scappoose Boosters, which funds youth activities around the city.

“That money goes to support teams and clubs at the high school,” Pizzo explained.

Pizzo, Williams and Holmes said they decided to get on board with reviving the annual event to continue providing support for school sports programs and to bring Scappoose residents together and remind them of the joys of small-town living.

It’s those campy annual warm weather festivals that shaped a large part of Betsy Stephens’ childhood.

“When it was Pow Wow when I was a kid, my mother always dressed us up and we did the parade in full-on uniform,” Stephens recalled. “We dressed up in prairie attire. One year, she dressed all my cousins and I up in Hawaiian gear. We have lots of memories of us participating in the Pow Wow parade.”

FILE - Kids grin at the turn of a rollercoaster at the Scappoose Pow Wow in 1979.She was crowned junior court queen the last year of the Pow Wow and still goes to the festival every year. Like Williams, she now volunteers her time to help plan it.

Like other volunteer-run fundraiser events, Summerfest relies on attendance and sponsorship money to fulfill its purpose. Organizers say they’re relying on community attendance this year to determine the fate of the event’s future.

“We believe that it takes about five years for an event like that to really establish itself again,” Williams said. She’s hoping this year’s end-of-fest financial breakdown proves her right.

This year, live music from Radio Giants, After Hrs Band and The Wieners, will accompany 10 different food vendors, as well as other activities on deck. A full festival schedule will be available in the Friday, June 19, issue of the Spotlight.

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