Gold Bar festival could feel pinch of U.S. 2 closure

GOLD BAR — The closure of U.S. 2 could mean less traffic coming through during Gold Bar’s annual festival this weekend.

Gold Dust Days is set to start Friday and continue through Sunday. Central Washington wildfires have caused the highway to be shut down from Cole’s Corner to Leavenworth since last week.

Gold Bar Mayor Linda Loen said she was hoping the highway might be reopened in time. Otherwise, she said, it could hurt festival attendance.

Loen also said some local firefighters would likely not be able to return to Gold Bar to participate in some of the usual festival activities.

Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce Director Debbie Copple said she wasn’t too concerned about the U.S. 2 closure affecting festival attendance.

“Gold Dust Days is kind of a local festival,” she said. “It’s looking like the weather will be perfect this weekend.”

Copple said she expects the town of about 2,000 people to host up to 5,000 visitors during the event. The festival showcases the area’s mining heritage and the history of the Sky Valley.

“We do it the old-fashioned way,” Loen said, noting the event does not have a carnival. “It’s a country fair without the animals.”

Organizers have planned a variety of free, old-time activities for children, such as gunny-sack races, lasso lessons and hay wagon rides.

On Friday, children are set to decorate their bicycles and ride in a parade. The mayor said she plans to cruise along with them on her bicycle.

“That, more than anything, is the best part,” Loen said.

The Miss Gold Dust pageant and a variety show also are scheduled for Friday.

“These young ladies are way more than just a pretty face,” Copple said. “They spend the whole year representing the Sky Valley at events.”

During the festival, people can pan for gold, visit the street fair and listen to local bands. There’s other entertainment planned, including a Civil War encampment, a classic car show and a 1950s pin-up contest.

“Last year, they looked exactly like they just stepped off a fashion show from 1954,” Copple said.

For the first time this year, the nonprofit Rat Bastards Car Club is a set to hold a slow drag contest. Drivers can give their ride a burst of gas but after they reach a certain point on the drag strip they have to coast to the finish line.

“It’s just silly fun,” Copple said.

Copple said organizers are working on ways to better feature the area’s Native American heritage and the gold panning history at future festivals.

For a full schedule of events, visit golddustdays.org/schedule.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @AmyNileReports

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