The procession known as the Hearts of Gold Parade has been leading off every Valleyfest weekend going back to 2006.
This year, the festive trail of vintage cars, local floats and marching bands will be proceeding in a different direction.
For safety and logistical reasons, the parade route will now begin near University Road and meander east past Bowdish Road and toward Spokane Valley City Hall. In previous years, the cavalcade has begun near City Hall and moved west.
Peggy Doering, Valleyfest director, said the transition will mean more room for staging and dispersal of parade participants. In the past, floats, cars, horses and trucks have been stacked up to the southeast of City Hall beyond the Spokane Valley Library.
Sprague will be closed to through traffic from University to Bowdish beginning at 5:45 p.m. on Friday. By 7 p.m. – a half-hour before the parade is scheduled to begin – Sprague will be shut down from University to Pines Road.
Doering gave credit to Stan Cook of the Spokane Valley Fire Department as well as Matt Lyons and Mike Zollars of the Spokane Valley Police Department for helping to organize the new route.
There will be close to 130 entries in this year’s parade, including floats from towns like Deer Park and Tekoa. The award-winning West Valley High School marching band will add to the festivities with an exuberant set list and the 141st Air National Honor Guard will present the colors. Spokane Valley Fire Chief Mike Thompson, named Washington State Fire Chief of the Year for 2011, will serve as grand marshal.
“The parade gathers our community together,” said Doering.
The second day of Valleyfest will feature a pancake breakfast on Saturday morning at the CenterPlace Regional Events Center, 2426 N. Discovery Place, scheduled for 7:30 to 10:30. All proceeds from the breakfast – plates are $7 per person – go to benefit the Valleyfest Foundation which purchases school supplies and sports equipment for students at Spokane Valley schools.
On both Saturday and Sunday mornings, a hot-air balloon rally will take place in the skies over Spokane Valley. The dirigibles are scheduled to launch from the lawn at CenterPlace at 6:40 a.m.
Doering said the addition of the colorful balloons in 2009 has been a boon to the agenda, despite a premium on participating entries. There are half-a-dozen hot-air balloon festivals in Washington during Valleyfest weekend.
“I think it’s another great aspect of the event,” Doering said. “We get a lot of calls about it.”
At 9 a.m., a 5K/10K run/walk will begin at nearby Mirabeau Point Park and wind down the Centennial Trail. This year’s event is being held to raise awareness for diabetes prevention.
Saturday’s schedule will include an array of Valleyfest staples, beginning with the Classic Car show on the north lawn at CenterPlace. Over 100 vintage vehicles are scheduled to appear in the display, slated for 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Music, dance and comedy will be featured on three stages throughout Saturday beginning at 10:30 a.m. The Meadow Festival Stage will host the country stylings of Spokane native Barry Lee White and the Latin sounds of Milonga among others, while the Family Stage will include the likes of Jenks Music for kids and the Coeur d’Alene Marimbas. Meanwhile, the CenterPlace Outdoor Stage will include an array of jazz, blues and pop.
While parking is always a challenge for Valleyfest attendees – lots are set up to the east and west of Mirabeau Point Park – Doering reminds people bound for the site that 75 cents will purchase a full-day of shuttle transportation courtesy of STA buses. Shuttles depart regularly from the Spokane Valley Mall parking lot between 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday only.
Along with a myriad of commercial, educational and food booths in the park, Saturday’s schedule will include the popular Fishing in the Falls at Mirabeau Falls, just south of the park, a Go Green Zone, emphasizing environmental awareness, and rare animals courtesy of Mutual of Omaha.
Sunday kicks off with a song worship hosted by Barry Lee White at 10 a.m., a bike outing along the Centennial Trail, beginning at 11 a.m. and an educational program on dog ownership from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Booths and stages will also be featured from 11 to 4.
Despite morphing into a regional happening that is now advertised in areas as far away as Canada and Montana, Doering said Valleyfest continues to emphasize the same community themes as it did in its first year at Terrace View Park back in 1990. The event’s budget has grown to $137,000 and a volunteer crew of nearly 300 serves on a list of over 20 committees.
“This is a celebration of community,” Doering said. “We couldn’t put it together without all the support.”