YONCALLA — Childhood friends who set out to revive the town’s summer festival they once enjoyed as children are close to making their dream a reality.
Elementary school educators Cassie Reigard, Christina Mast and Amanda Stroud — along with local parent Madison Kokos — are still accepting booth applications and donations to bring back the Yoncalla Summer Festival that was discontinued 13 years ago.
The reborn festival is scheduled to take place Aug. 11-13 with activities including a kids parade, game booths and street bands.
The lifelong friends remember when they were children, and their families would bring them to the local summer festival — it was a highlight of their childhood experiences.
“The biggest memory I had was walking up and down Main Street. It was safe and it was fun,” Reigard said. “Our parents would give us $5 and we could run up and down the street for a whole day and be entertained.”
Yoncalla’s summer festival took place from 1990 to 2003, when many of the original organizers started to become exhausted from running it for more than a decade.
“We were trying to get new bodies, new life in there, and we couldn’t get anybody to take over the whole program,” said Tammy Eveland, one of the founders of the original event. “We were really getting up there in age, and so we just decided that after 13 years, that we would just call it quits.”
Eveland, who also owns a local deli, collected pictures taken of past events in a scrapbook, which have been distributed on the event’s Facebook page to promote its revival.
Reigard, Mast and Kokos felt that the absence of the festival has brought a feeling among many Yoncalla residents that the community isn’t as cohesive as it once was.
Although, Reigard enjoys the Fourth of July festivities in the town, which she describes as having the biggest fireworks she has ever seen, the friends feel bringing back the summer festival could build relationships between the roughly 1,047 Yoncalla residents.
“It has really shown that the community is not as cohesive as it used to be,” Kokos said. “We really want to bring it back and build a stronger community.”
They agree that there was a need to provide more entertainment for children living in Yoncalla.
“We want the same memories that we had as a child for our own children, and if we want those, then we will have to bring them,” said Reigard.
The organizers also want to provide affordability in the activities for the festival-goers and vendors. They are charging those running booths $10 and are requiring that the game booths are “nickel, dime and quarter games.”
The income would go directly toward funding the festival in the following years.
Organizers have a $4,000 budget to pay for electrical, bands and rent equipment. They have raised $2,400 in donations since May and have filled 20 booths as of Friday.
“I think that it is a great thing that they are doing,” said Traci Garcia, who will be managing the Yoncalla School District booths. “A lot of times we have to go out of town to bigger fairs, and a lot of people (in Yoncalla) don’t have to funds to be able to do something like that.”
Many of the booths are fundraisers for local community programs, including Yoncalla School District’s football, track, cross country and cheerleading teams and North Douglas’ football team. The Yoncalla School District is also fundraising to send elementary students to Washington, D.C.