During a Parkersville Heritage Foundation meeting in October 2021, president Martha Martin asked the group’s members a simple question: “What is our vision?”
“We’ve been selling (engraved) bricks to help offset costs and preserve history,” Martin said. “We’re probably going to sell the last brick in the next year or two at the latest. What next?”
Foundation member Susan Tripp provided not only the answer to that question, but the genesis of a new annual event in East Clark County.
The Foundation is now gearing up for its inaugural Parkersville Day event.
The new event will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 4, at Parker’s Landing Historical Park, 24 S. “A” St., Washougal.
“Really, out of nowhere, I remembered that Martha had talked about having an event but then COVID hit,” Tripp said. “I said, ‘Why don’t we start a Parkersville Day? It would be perfect for us as a foundation, and we can bring all of the groups together, because everybody wins with collaboration.”
Tripp reached out to her local historical group contacts and pitched the idea first to the Port of Camas-Washougal’s Parkersville National Historic Site advisory committee.
“Everyone just thought the idea was wonderful,” she said. “I said to that group, ‘Let me run with the ball and see what happens. If I can’t pull all of the major elements together by March 31, we’ll look at the following year.’ The event really took off, and it was almost completely planned by January. Everybody was in place. It went really fast. That surprised me. Everyone came together.”
The June 4 event will feature a Chinookan blessing, storytelling, a student art display, a high school brass band performance, and display booths staffed by Two Rivers Heritage Museum, Clark County Historical Museum and Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance representatives.
“It’s kind of a history lesson for all ages,” Tripp said.
Park partners, including the Soroptimist Club of Camas-Washougal, Cascade Tree Works, ColumbiaOutdoor.com, Camas Lions Club, AllPhaseConstruction-remodeling.com, JTR Artworks & Construction, and Affordable Ponds, donated time and materials to help preserve and beautify the park for the event, Tripp said.
“It’s just heartwarming,” she said. “People love the idea of coming together for something that is meaningful and going to be a lot of fun.”
The event is inspired by a similar event held in the area in 1879, according to Tripp.
“They advertised that the entertainment would include an aerial trapeze performance, a fat man’s race, a wheelbarrow race, a sack race and a greased pig race with prizes,” Tripp said. “Also there was a large dance floor, croque and swings worked by horsepower, and a fine brass band played.”
Tripp and other event organizers tried to pull from this historical event while planning the June 4 Parkersville Day. The new event will have wheelbarrow races and croquet as well as entertainment that started in the late 1800s, such as a beanbag toss game, also known as “cornhole” and a ring toss game called “quoits.”
Tripp said organizers hope to make the event an annual celebration held on the first Saturday in June each year. They also hope the event will “evolve” in coming years.
“A core part of it will stay the same,” Tripp said. “I think there will be a different emphasis each year. There might even be different groups leading the event each year. I see the Chinook history and family legacies in Washougal becoming more prevalent.”
“It will be a learning experience this year, but I think some of these elements, if they work the way we hope they will, will be things that families just look forward to every year,” she said. “It will be the history event of the year, and it will get bigger and bigger and bigger. That’s what I predict.”