Camas Days legacy marches on

‘Burt’ Duncan helped organize parade until his death last year

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

Published:

 
photoThe Clark County Fair Equestrian Court rides down Northeast Fourth Avenue during last year’s Camas Days Grand Parade.

(/The Columbian)

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If you go

• What: Camas Days, a two-day festival with vendors, arts and crafts, a Kid’s Street, a Wine and Microbrew Street, Grand Parade and bathtub races.

• Where: Downtown Camas.

• When: Vendors and food court open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Wine and Microbrew Street open 5 to 11 p.m. on Friday, July 27, and Saturday, July 28. Grand Parade begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 28. Other event times vary.

• Cost: Free.

• Information: http://www.cwchamber.com.

Things were a lot less high-tech when neighbors Clifford “Burt” Duncan and Tim Hazen first volunteered to help with the Camas Days Grand Parade about 15 years ago.

Especially when they got the paper with their instructions at orientation on the first day, Hazen said.

“It was all kind of handwritten on the back of an envelope, and it was raining,” Hazen said with a laugh. “It was gone almost instantly.”

The two ended up successfully organizing the parade on the fly that year, but the problem spurred Duncan to modernize the system and computerize everything.

And through his efforts, subsequent generations of volunteers have gotten printed sheets with details on the parade order and everything they needed to do.

“He brought a lot of sophistication,” Hazen said.

Sadly, this year, Hazen won’t have his longtime friend to help him, he said.

Duncan, 78, passed away at his home on November 24.

“This is our first year in 15 years without him,” Hazen said. “He’s going to be sorely missed.”

But as the Camas High School band plays, the cheer squad performs acrobatic moves, the Miss Clark County princesses roll by, and the veterans’ color guard and police and firefighters march, Hazen said he’s sure his old partner would still be bursting with pride for his hometown.

“It’s a great activity,” Hazen said. “It’s a great opportunity to go out with your neighbors, people watch, walk around with your kids. It’s a great time.”

The Grand Parade, which starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, is the signature event, but it’s just part of the overall fun of Camas Days, said Brent Erickson, who directs the festivities as part of the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce.

The two-day festival, which started in 1974, is part street fair, part beer garden, part kids playground and part class reunion.

“It got started as a sidewalk sale type of thing, and it merged with the parade, which had been around for a while, and the (Camas) Paper Festival, and it just kind

of grew,” Erickson said.

About 14,000 people show up over the weekend to check out the arts and crafts sales, beer and wine area, 17 food vendors and kids street, which this year has a rock climbing wall, jump house, caterpillar crawl and a slide. Camas High School classes of 1968 and 1978 will also be on hand for their reunions.

And there are sillier things to check out, such as the duck derby and bathtub races, which begin Saturday at 1 p.m. after the parade, he said.

“They use the old-type claw bathtubs, put them on wheels and steer them with a bar,” Erickson said. “The tub’s full of cold water, and you have to drive it through cones.”

Erickson said when he was younger, he used to participate in that event, which is especially popular with the teen crowd.

“It was always a good time,” Erickson said.

And while Hazen said he’ll miss his friend this year, he’s glad to see his legacy live on.

“I remember our first year, the parade organizer came by because we were both on the parade route, and they asked us to help out,” Hazen said. “The next year we were running the parade. He did a wonderful job.”

Sue Vorenberg: 360-735-4457; http://www.twitter.com/col_suevo;sue.vorenberg@columbian.com.