Granite Falls hosts family-friendly festival with railroad theme

GRANITE FALLS — Business owners, community leaders and high school alumni in this town of 3,400 are getting ready to celebrate a legacy of gold mining, logging and the once-busy railroad that carried trains to and from the mountains.

The 49th Annual Railroad &Reunion Days kicks off Friday evening and continues until Sunday. Most of the activities, including a children’s parade and grand parade, are set for Saturday.

Children can walk the parade route before the main event. The children’s parade registration starts at 11 a.m. in the parking lot of Playa Bonita Mexican Restaurant, and children begin walking at 11:30 a.m. The first 50 kids get gift bags.

The grand parade begins at noon and travels along Stanley Street and South Granite Avenue. The parade includes local clubs, students, politicians and performers along with the lively Seafair Pirates.

A carnival with family activities and rides is going up between the Granite Falls IGA and Alfy’s Pizza. Food and crafts will be for sale, and the Granite Falls Historical Museum will be open to share information about the town’s connections to the railroad.

More than 60 vendors and nonprofits have signed up to have booths at the street fair Saturday, said Jeanenne Hoyt, chair of the Granite Falls Chamber of Commerce’s Railroad &Reunion Days Committee. Most booths will be located along South Granite Avenue.

About five core volunteers and 10 parade-day volunteers help with planning and putting on the festival, Hoyt said. They began gathering participants and outlining a schedule in June.

“Personally, I think the event brings awareness to the town itself, and the parade brings a lot of people to town so they can see what’s here,” Hoyt said. “It’s a fun day for everyone. It’s a chance to get to know your neighbors, to talk and visit and enjoy the community.”

Railroad Days started in 1965 when an English teacher rallied her students to put on a festival. It has since become Railroad &Reunion Days, with a breakfast for Granite Falls High School graduates. Saturday’s breakfast is put on by the high school’s alumni association and hosted at The Father’s House Foursquare Church, 402 S. Granite Avenue, at 7 a.m.

This year, Everett author Brenda Ballard plans to return to her hometown to sign copies of her new children’s book, “The Boy From Granite Falls.” She’ll have a booth on Stanley Street from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The book is set in the Great Depression years of the 1930s in the mountain area east of Granite Falls. It tells the story of a teenager named Fred whose courage and creativity lead to adventures. He hikes, fishes, visits the Big Four Resort and the ice caves, and sleds down the face of a glacier on a piece of tin roof.

Fred’s stories are based on the real Fred Ballard, the author’s father-in-law, who grew up in the Granite Falls area.

Businesses and nonprofits also will be hosting some events and fundraisers in conjunction with Railroad Days. For example, Friends of the Granite Falls Library plans a book sale Saturday, said Jude Anderson, Chamber of Commerce president and library manager.

“It’s an opportunity for people to celebrate from all sorts of perspectives,” he said. “It’s just a nice, family-friendly day in Granite Falls.”

Kari Bray: kbray@heraldnet.com, 425-339-3439

Herald writer Gale Fiege contributed to this report.

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