Members of the Valley Church float toss candy to onlookers during the Everson Nooksack Summer Festival parade July 13. // Photo by Kyra Planetz
By Kyra Planetz
Hundreds of portable lawn chairs sat end to end along the sidewalk of Main Street in downtown Everson as their occupants prepared to watch the parade. American flags, positioned five feet apart from one another, lined the street as children anxiously waited to fill their bags with candy. This tradition is part of the annual Everson Nooksack Summer Festival.
On Saturday, July 13, an entourage of cars, trucks, tractors, floats, carriages and people on horseback filed down Main Street tossing candy at children who scrambled to grab it as quickly as they could.
According to festival chair and Chief of Everson City Police Dan MacPhee, each year since the late 1970s, the Everson Nooksack Chamber of Commerce has held this festival as a way to bring the community together.
This year, along with the parade, the three-day event included a car show, basketball and softball tournaments, live music, food and business vendors and a play area for kids; complete with bouncy houses and tractor-train rides, all located at Everson City Park.
Some festival-goers who don’t live in the Everson and Nooksack areas anymore still returned for this year’s event; they remember the festival fondly as it was a part of their childhood. One such participant is Catalina Ortiz, who spent six years of her adolescence living in Everson after her family moved there from Guatemala. After relocating to Ferndale four years ago, she brought her husband and children back to Everson this year to experience the festival she grew up with.
“We just want to see how much its grown, the city’s been changing a lot since we lived here,” Ortiz said. “We missed it after we moved, that’s why we’re here.”
For other families, this year’s Summer Festival was their first introduction to the community of Everson and Nooksack.
Jason Johnson, his wife and their five children moved to Everson from Atlanta, Georgia five months ago when Johnson got the opportunity to become the pastor at the Nooksack Valley Christ Community Church. Johnson said he enjoys the small-town community, how welcoming they’ve been to his family and was excited to participate in such a large community event.
“I love the community, the energy of the people coming together and the patriotism,” Johnson said. “Just to see the flags all throughout the city, it’s an amazing thing.”
Over the years the festival has grown exponentially larger, according to MacPhee. The car show, for example, started last year and has grown to include more vehicles and gained some recognition, MacPhee said. The Everson City Park was overflowing with activity at this year’s event.
“We’ve had to try to expand out where we can,” MacPhee said. “At this point we’ve pushed out to about everywhere we can in our city park.”
In the future, MacPhee said the festival may have to be expanded beyond the park but he believes the venue’s current form is perfect. Keeping all the event’s activities at a central location is important because it allows the community to gather and mingle in one place, MacPhee said. But with the festival growing each year, the chamber will accommodate for more activities, MacPhee said.
As the day wound down to an end, families left the park with smiles on their faces. The Everson Nooksack Summer Festival will continue for years to come, a tradition that will only grow larger as more community members show their support.