Celebrating a tradition of fun

Annual Camas Days festival brings the community together on a sunny weekend

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Joanna Duran gives her daughter, Delaney a lift to look at the animal prizes offered by Pure Wellness, a chiropractic and massage clinic in Washougal.

Whether it was scoring that roll of toilet paper or the piece of candy at the main parade, or the wonderful aromas wafting from the food area, or the many trinkets vendors were selling, Camas Days was all about having fun.

It came complete with tasty doughnuts, promising raffles and lively crowds. A crackle of energy ran through the air as people had the chance to explore booths set up by local and near-by vendors. With everything from handcrafted wood furniture to soaps to garlic, there was something that appealed to everyone.

The annual two-day festival on Friday and Saturday brought big crowds to downtown Camas. In addition to the family-themed events, there was also a Wine and Microbrew Street, complete with live music for the adults.

Dennis and Lisa Booher of LaPine, Ore., own the Supreme Elephant Ears booth. It was their first time at Camas Days.

“We love it,” Lisa Booher said. “This is such a cute town and we really like it.”

The stand featured 10 different toppings for elephant ears, including options for diabetics.

“We go to a lot of fairs and festivals and really enjoy this one,” she said.

Eric DeRoos of Dogzilla Hot Dogs kept festival patrons happy with his offerings. It was his fourth year as a food vendor.

“It’s so nice to see the people I know because everyone comes up and says hi,” he said. “I’ve been to a lot of festivals and Brent (Erickson) does a great job with making things run smoothly,” DeRoos said.

On Saturday, with a reverberating cannonball blast, the 2011 Camas Days Parade began its annual trek down Northeast Fourth Avenue under sunshine filled skies and the warm weather many have been craving.

From Ronald McDonald and Little Miss Rodeo Washington to the Fantastix Baton Club, Lacamas Shores Umbrella Drill Team and US West Coast Tae Kwon Do of Camas-Washougal, the entries that made up the list of participants dazzled the crowd of hundreds that gathered along the sidewalks from Oak to Adams streets to witness the event.

Many spectators didn’t leave empty-handed. As has become tradition at many small community parades, candy tossed into the crowd was quickly scooped up by children eager to satisfy a sweet tooth.

And unique to the Camas Days festivities, Georgia-Pacific employees riding the company’s float chucked rolls of toilet paper into the hands of those agile enough to catch them.

Afterward, the annual Bathtub Races on Fourth Avenue next to City Hall drew a large crowd eager to see participants maneuver bathtubs filled with cold water and a rider through an obstacle course.

The Kids Street was an ideal place for younger attendees to have some fun while their parents relaxed or shopped. Inflatable bouncing houses, a rock wall and an obstacle course provided plenty of entertainment and thrills for kids of all ages.

This year’s Kid’s Parade seemed bigger than ever with a new giant puppet and a large number of group costumes in the “Jungle Safari” spirit. Kids marched along Northeast Fourth Street to cheering crowds, led by a fire truck and complete with banners, designs and small floats.

On Sunday, a small crowd of Camas-Washougal Rotary Club members and citizens gathered along the rails of the Third Avenue Bridge as a yellow Nutter Corporation front loader with its bucket filled with tiny plastic ducks prepared for the big drop.

“Come on number 403!,” one onlooker repeated.

Finally, the anticipation was over and at 2 p.m. that front loader dropped the little ducks, marking the start of their cruise down the Washougal River.

Hundreds of feet away Rotary members waited, eager to scoop up the winners in the service organization’s annual fundraiser.

The “owners” of the first quackers across the finish line are set to receive the Ducky Derby’s grand prizes including a stay at a condo in Hawaii and airfare for two, a stay at and RCI condo anywhere in the world, a gold bracelet or a Nintendo Wii. Dozens of other prizes will also be doled out.

Meanwhile, the eighth-annual Lacamas Lake Half Marathon & 4-Miler had more than 1,300 participants this year, undoubtedly some of whom were eager to burn off the calories consumed at Camas Days Friday and Saturday.

Temperatures were in the lower 70s during the race, but it didn’t stop the scores of people from traversing the trails of Lacamas Park or running up Payne Hill during the half marathon.

Post-Record reporter Heather Acheson and intern Rachel Lerman contributed to this story