OCEAN PARK, Wash. - Rain soaked people at the Heritage Festival in Ocean Park Monday, but it did little to dampen spirits as locals - and a few remaining visitors - celebrated Labor Day with food, music and a bit of history.
"The whole community gets involved," donut vendor Phyllis Knight said.
"We always debate whether we should even have the festival Monday because so many people are gone by then," her husband, Roger Knight, said. "But (Sunday) it was really busy."
Labor Day is traditionally a day set aside to remember the contributions of organized labor, but for many visitors it was the day to drive back from a weekend at the coast. Locals and a handful of out-of-towners came Labor Day for the festival, which was started by the Knights in 1995 to cater to tourists during the Rod Run to the End of the World.
"We started the festival as a place for the ladies to go and shop instead of doing the car thing," Phyllis Knight said.
The Rod Run now happens the following weekend, but the Knights' event has become a Labor Day weekend tradition of its own. Renamed the Heritage Festival last year, it draws an estimated 5,000 people to hear nine bands, shop more than 45 vendors, watch historical re-enactments by the Mountain Men, and take in performances by local and visiting storytellers.
BROOK REINHARD - The Daily Astorian
Marya Butler, left, and Vivian Currie of Noisy Neighbors play up the old time tunes Monday at the Heritage Festival in Ocean Park. David Cadwell, a third member of the band, is not pictured.
"We just wanted to bring people back to their roots, Lewis and Clark and those folk," co-organizer Tommie Brown said. "These days, time goes by so fast we don't take time to reflect on what got us here."
One group hammering history into people were the Black Dog Clan Mountain Men, re-enactors from Oregon and Washington who camped out in their teepees and donned fur caps and period clothing for the weekend.
"We just like life in the 1840s," said Bob Johnson, playing the part with an Alaskan red fox pelt perched squarely atop his head. "It's a way to get away from the fast-paced life."
Mountain woman Arlene Harouff said the best part about being in festivals such as Ocean Park's was being able to share with visitors.
"We've actually had kids who've come out from the city, who have never been camping ... and come up to us and say, 'Is that a real fire?'" said Harouff, whose native Red Paint Apache name is White Feather.
Christopher and Evan MacArthur, ages 2 and 4, dance to the tunes of Noisy Neighbors Monday at the Heritage Festival. The two children were visiting from Battle Ground, Wash.
Most of the Mountain Men said they're hooked on re-enactments, which give them a chance to go camping and polish skills such as firing black-powder rifles and throwing tomahawks. They also suck other people into their historical hobby.
"People will say, 'I'm just going to get a shirt,' or 'I'll just get a gun,' and then they get totally involved," Johnson said.
The festival was also a chance for newcomers to enjoy Ocean Park.
"We just moved here, so we're checking up on all the festivals," explained Bill Joyce, who moved from San Diego with his wife Jackie two weeks ago. "We love the area, everyone is so much friendlier than where we're from."
Visiting Canadian Mike Gouin agreed.
"I do this just to check things out," he said while his two German shorthaired pointers begged for French fries. "I've always liked crafts and the arts and I like traveling and getting to know different people."