2014 Events: Gateway to Paradise Events and More (May 2014 – January 2015)


23-26 Packwood Flea Market, Packwood

26 Memorial Day Ceremony at Rainier’s Veterans Memorial Park

31-1 Roy Pioneer Rodeo


Roy Pioneer Rodeo 

Perhaps the biggest event of the year in Roy, the Roy Pioneer Rodeo covers two weekends this year, May 31 and June 1, as well as August 30 and 31, and the outdoor rodeo is held in Roy at 8710 Higgins Greig Road.

The rodeo draws participants and thousands of fans alike each year to not only take in the traditional Roy events but also to enjoy a souvenir booth, food booth as well as a beer and wine garden.

Fans will see all types of events from bareback riding and saddle bronc riding to calf roping, steer wrestling, military bull riding, breakaway roping, team roping and barrel racing. Also seen will be the opening ceremonies, clown acts, cow milking and businessman’s wild cow milking.

Children can partake in a stick horse racing event, too.

Typically, each rodeo event sees about 10 competitors, with hundreds competing annually from around the Pacific Northwest. Those who compete must also compete in August if they want to win a buckle. Buckle winners are the participants who win the most money at both rodeos in each event.

Sanctioned through the Northwest Professional Rodeo Association, the Roy Pioneer Rodeo is also part of the NPRA season series. The first Roy rodeo was June 19, 1960 and brought in $500, and now brings in more than $100,000 each year. All proceeds go back into funding the rodeo, as the Roy Pioneer Rodeo is a nonprofit association.

The rodeo starts 1:30 p.m. each day, with gates opening at noon. Admission is $10 for children ages 13 up through adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children under 5. Cash-only is accepted on rodeo grounds, so be sure to bring plenty.

Visit www.royrodeo.com for more information and to view rodeo photos from past years.



1 — Yelm Farmers Market opens

1 — Spring Swing Foundation Golf Tournament at Tahoma Valley Golf Course

7 — Tenino Farmers Market opens

14 — Yelm Flag Day celebration

13-15 — Offut Lake Resort Father’s Day fishing tournament

26-29 — Yelm Prairie Days


Yelm Prairie Days

As the fastest-growing town in Thurston County, the city of Yelm will likely have thousands of people partake in a community-wide event that spans more than six decades.

It’s called Prairie Days, and if you’re traveling through the Nisqually Valley in late-June headed to Mount Rainier, you may just become part of the city’s biggest annual festivity.

Prairie Days is June 26-29 at Yelm City Park, with a “Flowers Blooming Across the Prairie” theme parade — presented by the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce — 7 p.m. opening night. Following the parade, the good times move to Yelm City Park with food, games and entertainment.

Hosted by the Yelm Lions Club, Prairie Days is the club’s main fundraiser of the year, in which proceeds benefit activities throughout the area. Attendees, whether local or from afar, will be privy to family and community-oriented entertainment such as local vocal groups, school choirs and bands. Other attractions include special events for children, like a “Kid Zone” and the Magnificent Mutt contest on Saturday.

Residents and visitors can browse among vendors and information booths, or get an adrenaline rush courtesy of the Davis Amusement Cascadia — which offers state-of-the-art rides and concessions that are sure to please any age. Organizers claim it truly is a first-class, safe carnival for everyone.

The carnival operates through Sunday, after the rest of Prairie Days concludes.

In 1938, when the Yelm Lions Club formed, members created a carnival during the event to raise club funds. Initially, the carnival was near the town’s water tower, then shifted to the park in the 1950s.

According to the record books, Prairie Days started in the 1940s as a one-day gathering with deep, agricultural roots. Yelm historians claim the first half of the century, Yelm farmers gathered in the summer to hold a town party celebrating the berry harvest, which usually evolved into a street dance in the evening.

With the changing times came growth, as buildings were added to Yelm City Park to support the festival, such as a stage, picnic shelters and a hamburger stand. Events started expanding, too, with the well-known pet parade, dog show, water fights by local firemen and a royalty contest. A children’s costume contest is a tradition that was brought back several years ago to boost community involvement in the parade.

The Prairie Days parade began as a parade of pets and kids, but now includes businesses and anyone else who wants to enter. And, even if parades aren’t your thing, Yelm City Park will likely have something that is.



20 — Wilkeson National Handcar Races

12-13 — Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic

25-27 — Oregon Trail Days


Oregon Trail Days

Held the fourth weekend every July, the city of Tenino’s annual Oregon Trail Days is sure to be a blast — especially with the ever-popular Four Square Mile Music Festival.

Occurring July 25-27 in downtown Tenino — which is just off the beaten path toward Mount Rainier — what the small city lacks in population, it more than makes up for with a big birthday bash to honor history.

On Friday and Saturday evenings, the Adam Craig Music Foundation hosts an all-age benefit concert on the Quarry House Stage with local musicians and a beer and wine garden. Proceeds benefit the Tenino School District and the city’s Quarry Pool.

Last year’s event raised thousands of dollars, according to the Four Square Mile Music Festival’s Facebook page. The Adam Craig Foundation donated $4,000 to the Quarry Pool Fund, purchased 14 iPads for Parkside Elementary School and paid for 13 sixth-grade students to attend Cispus Outdoor Education Camp.

The Adam Craig Foundation thanked the businesses, sponsors, everyone who donated, and plan to have another great showing this July.

However, before all of those rockin’ memories are made, don’t miss out on the parade 11 a.m. Saturday that travels up and down Sussex Avenue, lasting about an hour.

Established in 1984, the T90 motorcycle drill, led by captain Chad Bowman, revs their engines around 10:45 a.m. for an adrenaline-pumping ride down the parade route to build anticipation for what’s to come. The streets will surely be lined with locals and tourists who are waiting to see their favorite entries, such as the popular black powder rifle shooters.

The list of participants is practically endless, including businesses, organizations, political candidates, animals, children, fire trucks and more.

Before the parade begins, the first-ever Oregon Trail Days 5K to benefit Tenino High School cross-country will be underway. Finishers receive medallion and participants have the option of a T-shirt, which can be seen at facebook.com/oregontraildaystenino. The 5K starts on the parade route right before it begins. Family discounts are available, and age group awards will go to the top three in each category, with five year increments, according to the event’s Facebook page.

From there, swarms of people will head to the city park for music (remember the Four Square Mile Music Festival?), vendors galore, Trader’s Row and kid activities.

Yummy, stomach pleasing food, as well as all of the entertainment options for every age, is almost guaranteed to please everyone who stops by for a great time.

Looking for something enlightening? Stop by the Depot Museum for the list of things to do throughout Oregon Trail Days’ festive weekend.

The South Sound Reading Foundation provides books for ages 4-12 at the Kids Zone, where there will be sack races, candy in a haystack, water balloons and other games. Prizes for the games are donated by local businesses.

Other activities include a car show and gem show, and potentially a penny-pinching sale at the Tenino Timberland Library.

Oregon Trail Days is a showcase of cherished history, which can be seen everywhere, such as the city’s old-school buildings made from granite mined at the park many, many decades ago. Although the event may not be as old and visible as Mount Rainier, it can provide nostalgia and appreciation for those who make the fun-filled visit.



26 — Yelm Rotary Badminton Classic

30-3 — Thurston County Fair


Thurston County Fair

The Thurston County Fair offers “fun for the whole herd” this summer.

The 2014 Thurston County Fair is July 30 through Aug. 3 at the Thurston County fairgrounds, 3054 Carpenter Road in Lacey.

Each year’s fair offers a carnival, vendors, livestock shows, and a concert series featuring a variety of entertainers.

The carnival provides a variety of rides: tame ones for young children, as well as some death-defying attractions for older thrill seekers. Food ranging from corn dogs to hamburgers will keep visitor’s stomachs from grumbling throughout the day.

Animals serve as the heart of the fair, with high school students from Future Farmers of America chapters throughout the county showcasing local livestock.

Young students get a chance to show off their livestock-raising skills as well through 4-H.

The organizations give students a chance to gain a variety of leadership skills and build confidence in themselves.

As the fair nears, the full schedule of events will be listed at http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/fair/schedule.asp.



1 — Prairie Street Rod Association Show

2-3 — Southeast Thurston County Relay for Life

7-10 — Morton Loggers Jubilee

15-17 — Tenino Antique and Classic Motorcycle Swap Meet and Show

15-17 — Helsing Junction Farm and K Records Annual Sleepover

17 — T-9-0 Quarrymen Car Club 12th annual Show-n-Shine

16 — Yelm Lions Club Poker Run

22-24 — Rainier Round-Up Days and Bluegrass Pickin’ Party


Rainier Round-Up Days and Bluegrass Pickin’ Party

Late August is the city of Rainier’s time to shine.

The Rainier Round-Up Days celebration has been going strong for more than 20 years, giving people a chance to celebrate their hometown while enjoying toe-tapping bluegrass music.

“It’s Rainier’s annual celebration,” Rainier Mayor Randy Schleis said.

The 22nd Annual Rainier Round-Up Days and Bluegrass Pickin’ Party is Aug. 22-24 at Wilkowski Park in Rainier.

It’s an opportunity to come out and hear great bluegrass music, enjoy food sold by the Rainier Lions Club, and check out vendors, including one run by a local Boy Scout troop, Schleis said.

There are a couple new ideas floating around for this year, including a reenactment of the Civil War. But it’s not yet known if that will be included in this year’s festivities, Schleis said. The committee plans to meet to finalize plans for the event.

A highlight of the annual event is the Bluegrass pickin’ party.

“I always look for the bluegrass,” Schleis said. “It’s nice to be able to go down and even if they’re not putting on a performance, you can walk around to the different campsites and see if people are jamming. You can just pull up a seat and sit there and listen to them.”

Food and crafts line the pathways to Wilkowski Park.

The annual parade is Aug. 23 and features a route short enough for kids to walk.

A large number of youth groups from baseball, football, cheerleaders, dance troops, Scout troops, churches and 4-H groups make the Rainier Round-Up Days parade an annual must-do activity.

The parade lasts less than an hour and also includes politicians, businesses and people who just like to be in parades. Nearby activities include games for kids.



24 — Eatonville Arts Festival

30-31 — Roy Pioneer Rodeo

30 — Wounded Warrior Car Show



5-21 — Washington State Fair

12-14 — South Sound Wine Trail

27 — Nisqually Watershed Festival

27-28 — Chehalis Valley Wine Tour

27-28 — Lattin’s Country Cider Mill Apple Festival and Pumpkin Patch



1 — Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce Anniversary Bash

15 — Mount Rainier Fall Wine Tasting and Brew Festival



6 — Yelm Christmas in the Park


Yelm Christmas in the Park

Yelm’s Christmas in the Park is as warm as the massive bonfire that burns throughout the day and deep into the night on Saturday, Dec. 6.

If the holidays are a time of thanksgiving, the gathering together with loved ones and a season of giving, this community celebration is a perfect fit.

The entire Yelm community is invited to embrace the 26th anniversary of the day-long event, which starts with a parade and ends with a concert by the Yelm Orchestra. In between are a slew of concerts by students from 13 area choirs and bands.

“The choirs go all day right to the end, one after another,” said Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cecelia Jenkins, who has volunteered for Christmas in the Park since its inception. “All those darling kids singing holiday songs; it’s very entertaining.”

The community blessing and the lighting of the Christmas tree and water tower commence at 5:30 p.m.

Central to the celebrations is a commitment to offer everything for free, from photos with Santa and a candy cane to hot dogs and beverages, making ornaments, wrapping presents and a children’s book present for every kid. A gingerbread house contest also brightens the park.

One rule for the event is that every group that has a booth must give something away for free.  Timberland Library gifts children with a free book, helps the kids wrap them up, and then encourages the books go to a good friend as a Christmas present. The local FFA students will pop popcorn and hand it out all day.

The parade starts at 9:30 a.m. and ends with Santa on a Southeast Thurston Fire Authority fire truck.

For those participating in the parade, lineup is at 8:30 a.m. and trophies are awarded at 9 a.m. Parade staging is in the Yelm Cinemas parking lot and along West Road.

Parade participants are also asked to have walkers pass out candy and treats during the parade; throwing candy from moving vehicles onto the street pavement is discouraged.

The parade proves popular year after year, no matter if it is sunny, raining or snowing, attracting about 5,000 spectators. The parade is sponsored by the city of Yelm’s Park Advisory Committee and the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The whole community gets together for a big loving celebration,” Jenkins said. “Everybody is welcome. It creates warm feelings, but we’re frozen by the end of the day.”

That’s where the bonfire, and several portable heaters, along with free hot coffee, hot chocolate and hot cider, come in. The inner warmth comes from the act of giving.

“Low-income families or families with a lot of children can’t afford to have photos taken with Santa, and food and entry to bounce ups (the event includes free bounce houses for the kids) or write letters to Santa for free — and Santa answers them all,” Jenkins said. “Everyone has a chance to have a Christmas celebration, and it’s all about the kids. The park will be filled with kids.”

Jenkins said the entire event, which will attract upward of 5,000 people to the parade alone, is due to a dedicated army of volunteers.

“It takes a lot of hands,” she said. “So many people make the whole free day for kids and families happen.”



5 — Tenino Tree Lighting

6 — Tenino Winterfest and Holiday Bazaar


January (2015)

1 — Offut Lake Polar Bear Plunge

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