The Journey

Festival is a showcase of community spirit

By Michele Gregg

Davenport Project

Sunny skies, bluegrass folk music, the scent of barbeque sauce and friendly fellowship are assets to the annual Pioneer Days festival in Davenport, Wash. The festival takes place each year on the third Saturday in July. It has grown to be one of Davenport's most memorable events, said first-time festival coordinator Bill Rehaume.

Rehaume is eager to promote an event added to the Pioneers Days schedule last year: Davenport Road Night. This day-long classic-car show culminates in a cruise down Morgan Street.

Pioneer Days has changed drastically from what it was when it was started in 1972 as the dedication of Davenport's new historical museum. The parade grand marshals rode through town with their families. Davenport residents dressed up in period outfits and were judged on their costumes' authenticity, said Tannis Jeschke of the Davenport Museum. From this event came the Pioneer Days festival Davenport's residents know and love today.

Pioneer Days now offers live music, friendly fellowship and great food, with the help of a host of community volunteers. The festival draws primarily local families, but some come from the surrounding area as well. Parade participants include people of all ages. Extravagant floats pass by as children wheel their Radio Flyer wagons, while parents sit in lawn chairs to watch the show. The local Lion's Club chapter then hosts a city-wide barbeque where local bands play live music all day long.

Rehaume also wants to document the festival's impact by taking a head count at each local business. Businesses donate food and in-kind services to help contribute to the day's success.

"There has to be synergy within the system," Rehaume said.

Although Rehaume has been the coordinator of Pioneer Days for only one year, he has volunteered at the festival ever since he moved to Davenport, five years ago. His jobs have ranged from racing to add water to the dunk tank to helping bands set up for their show.

On top of planning this large event, Rehaume also juggles school, work and a social life. He came to Davenport as Food City Grocery's manager, and along with working full time, he is taking classes from the University of Phoenix for his bachelor's degree in business. But Rehaume still has time for a social life.

"He sings karaoke and has a good voice," a Davenport local, Ken Briggs, said. Rehaume used to sing karaoke at the Cottonwood Restaurant before it burned down.

Despite these many pursuits, Rehaume is excited to add Pioneer Days-planning to his already-busy schedule. As he coordinates the festival, Rehaume keeps the central mission in mind. He believes that the goal for this event is to promote awareness of the downtown area.

"It amazes me that people haven't discovered Davenport. It is ripe for the picking concerning the rural towns," Rehaume said.

Rehaume tries to reflect the community's pride in what the town has to offer. If the majority of the community comes out for the festival and everyone has a good time, then Rehaume believes the event is a success. He wants to bring variety to Pioneer Days but still keep tradition alive.