Washougal resident pens original song for Pakersville Day

Free event Saturday, June 3, to feature storytelling, Chinook history presentations, music and more

The Washougal High School Band will perform David Parker's original song, "Parkersville Day," during the second annual Parkersville Day event, to be held Saturday, June 3, 2023, at Parker's Landing Historical Park.

When it comes to Parker’s Landing Historical Park in Washougal, David Parker feels as though he simply has no choice but to be involved as much as he can.

“I have to be there,” the Washougal resident said, laughing. “I just do. It’s part of my destiny. My name is on the great big rock in the corner of the park.”

Parker — no relation to David C. Parker, an American adventurer who settled Parkersville, the first American town north of the Columbia River, just one mile from what is now Washougal, in 1852 — has served as the secretary/treasurer of the Parkersville National Historic Site advisory committee and the Parkersville Heritage Foundation for more than 10 years. He’s also a retired high-school and college band director and accomplished music writer.

That’s why Susan Tripp, the founder of the Parkersville Day event that debuted in 2022, asked Parker to write an original song for the second annual event, to be held from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 3, at the park.

The song — a concert march entitled, appropriately enough, “Parkersville Day” — will be performed by the Washougal High School band at 2:30 p.m.

“I do like writing music,” Parker said. “I’ve written hundreds of things, mostly for other people and for other bands. Susan ‘volunteered’ me (for the job), and I thought it seemed like a good idea because I’m involved with so many things that happen down there, and I’m always trying to write something for somebody. It does take a while (to write a song), and not everybody can do it, but since I spent my whole life conducting these kinds of pieces, it’s not too difficult to write them.”

“(I knew) David and how he feels about the park and his namesake,” Tripp added. “I just knew it was something that he could do that would be very special, and it would be a legacy for him. He’s done an amazing job (with the committee and foundation), and I just felt it would be a waste not to tap his talent. I just thought it was a wonderful way for him to continue his footprint in that park. Also, I wanted something to make Parkersville Day a little more ‘official’ by having its own song.”

Parker’s teaching career spanned 44 years and included posts at Taft High School (Lincoln City Oregon), Gladstone (Oregon) High School and the University of Portland. As a musician, he has performed with many groups in the classical, jazz, and popular genres.

“(For the ‘Parkersville Day’ song), I was thinking of John Philip Sousa and a concert march,” he said. “Most high school bands are adept at playing a concert march, so I borrowed ideas from just about every concert march I could think of and threw them all in one piece. It’s my original writing, but not so much my original ideas because John Philip Sousa already did all of them. It’s a concert-in-the-park (feel). Think of the summertime band in a band shell and that sort of thing, or ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ or one of those kinds of marches. (It) will fit in well with the theme of the day.”

Ironically, Parker is judging a high school band competition in Seattle on the day of the event and thus won’t be able to hear his song for the first time. But he has confidence that the Washougal High band will do it justice.

“I know that they’ll do a great job on my tune,” he said. “I know the new director, David Duarte, and he’s really on the ball. He knows what he’s doing.”

The event will also feature several live presentations, performances and displays that offer “entertaining and interesting local history lessons for all ages,” according to a news release.

Sam Robinson, the vice president of the Chinook Indian Nation Tribal Council, will kick off the event with an authentic Chinook blessing and a presentation about Chinook music, dance, history and current events.

“He’s the ‘go-to’ for Native history on the Columbia River,” the news release states.

The winners of a Washougal School District student art contest will then be announced. The artwork will feature a Chinook heritage theme to include imagery of salmon, dugout canoes, longhouses, baskets, camas bulbs and more.

The event will also feature several “storytellers,” including Pepper Toelle Kim, who will recount events experienced by her ancestors, who traveled in wagon trains along the Oregon Trail alongside historic settlers David C. Parker, Michael Troutman Simmons and George Washington Bush in 1844; Rolan Tripp, who will talk about Simmons and Bush; and Rich Schumann, who will discuss the history of the local dairy industry.

The event will also include a performance from the Whiskey Flats Brass Band, a “living history group dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of authentic brass band music,” according to the news release; and free ice cream courtesy of Ice Cream Renaissance in Vancouver.

“The event is intended to be a free, family-friendly, fun way to learn about your local history and become excited about the stories that are really relevant to where you live,” Tripp said. “It will take you back. History can be boring, so the event is intended, especially with the storytellers and the music and the art, to really bring history to life and have everyone enjoy their local history.”