ARLINGTON — Admission has always been free. This year even the parking is free.
The 25th annual Stillaguamish Festival of the River and Pow Wow is Saturday, Aug. 9, and Sunday, Aug. 10*, at River Meadows County Park on Jordan Road.
In honor of its 25th celebration, the Stillaguamish Tribe decided earlier this year that no parking fees would be charged. After the tragic mudslide near Oso there was an extra impetus to make the festival open to all.
In the aftermath of the slide, the Stillaguamish Tribe donated nearly $400,000 to rescue and recovery efforts, including college scholarships to two women widowed by the slide, said Tribal Chairman Shawn Yanity.
A video tribute to the slide victims will be shown at the festival, and Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert plans to be there.
“The festival is a tribute to not only the heritage of the Stillaguamish Tribe but to the Stilly Valley as well,” Tolbert said. “Recent events have left an indelible mark on the valley and on all of us who call it home. This alone makes the 25th celebration something special.”
The trade-off for no charges at the festival this year is that fewer big names are performing.
The headliners on the festival stage this year are The Wallflowers (featuring Bob Dylan’s son, Jakob) at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and country music star Joe Nichols, who is sure to sing his new hit “Yeah,” at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
“We also are focusing more on traditional native activities and our pow wow will take on a bigger role,” Yanity said.
American Indian flutist Peter Ali kicks off the entertainment lineup at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Yellow Bird Dancers, a professional Apache dance troupe from Arizona, will perform at noon, followed by the Pow Wow Grand Entry parade at about 1 p.m. Traditional pow wow drumming and dancing are scheduled throughout both afternoons.
This year alder-baked salmon dinners served up by the tribe are priced at just $5 each.
The New Old Time Chautauqua circus group performs at about 5 p.m. each day. There are also logging shows at 2:30 p.m. each day and a variety of environmental exhibits and interpretive walks along the river are planned.
Children will have plenty to do at the festival Fun Zone, where they can listen to traditional Coast Salish storytelling, enjoy entertainment, crafts, a dunk tank and a climbing wall.
Other entertainment includes The Nibblers at 3 p.m. Saturday, Marley’s Ghost with Ed Littlefield of Arlington at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Duvall’s Austin Jenkes at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Dana Lyons of “Cows with Guns” fame at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
“The entertainment starts earlier because we want people to be able to leave the park safely while it’s still light out,” Yanity said. “We also hope the evening light helps people clean up after themselves. At previous festivals the amount of trash left on the ground was counterintuitive to the purpose of the festival.”
The Stillaguamish Tribe hopes people will have fun at the festival, but the purpose of the event is to relay the message that people must take care of the Stillaguamish River and its watershed.
The tribe is working hard to improve water quality from the mountain head waters of the Stilly to its estuary at Port Susan in hopes of restoring salmon and other wildlife populations, Yanity said. At the festival, people can learn what they can do to help keep the river clean and find out what the tribe is doing, he said.
“And we’ll enjoy some great entertainment, too.” Yanity said.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; email@example.com. Twitter: @galefiege.
Festival of the River
The Stillaguamish Tribe’s free Festival of the River and Pow Wow is Aug. 9 and 10 at River Meadows Park, 20416 Jordan Road, east of Arlington and northwest of Granite Falls. Gates open at 10 a.m. Food and craft sales at the festival are by cash only, with no cash machines on site. Bring your own chairs, but leave the alcohol and marijuana at home. Water bottle refill stations will be open all day.