Summer may not officially arrive in Clark County until June 21, but its unofficial kickoff begins Saturday with a host of Memorial Day Weekend events.
The long weekend — a time-honored opportunity to remember veterans who died serving in the U.S. armed forces — is also a bookend for the warm days, outdoor fun and lively entertainment that makes the season in the Pacific Northwest special.
It’s a great time for boat races, wine tours, carnival rides and maybe even a bit of roller derby, along with more somber remembrances at Vancouver Barracks on Monday.
And there’s a bit of all of those things and more this weekend.
In its second year, Paddle for Life is a fundraiser that helps pay for disabled veterans to participate in dragon boat racing and crew. The race and training are open to all comers, and if you don’t want to race you can just sit by Vancouver Lake for free and cheer on the races with your family.
Adult wine aficionados may want to check out Clark County’s many wineries for the Spring Release Tour. Wineries such as Bethany Vineyards in Ridgefield, Rusty Grape in Battle Ground and Burnt Bridge Cellars in Vancouver all have special tastings and events planned throughout the long weekend.
If you have a taste for local sports, some unusual fun can be had at the Storm City Roller Girls home roller derby opener Saturday night at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds.
And over the river in Portland, the Rose Festival CityFair begins today with carnival rides and other family fun.
Finally, on Monday Fort Vancouver Barracks will host historical reenactors and a special remembrance ceremony in honor of Memorial Day.
So are you ready to get out there? Here’s more information:
Paddle for Life
What: Dragon boat teams will race across Vancouver Lake on Saturday and Sunday to raise money and awareness for the disabled veterans water-sports program. No experience necessary. All equipment and instruction provided. Regional recreational and elite teams will also compete in their own divisions.
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 24-25.
Where: Vancouver Lake Regional Park, 6801 N.W. Lower River Road, Vancouver.
Admission: Free to watch, but donations encouraged. $400 to $700 per team to participate. Minimum age to race is 13.
Storm City Roller Girls
What: Vancouver’s roller derby team will take on the Air Raid Roller Girls from Hillsboro, Ore., Saturday in the team’s first home bout.
When: 6 p.m. May 24.
Where: Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road.
Admission: $10, free for ages 5 and younger.
Memorial Weekend Spring Release Wine Tour
What: Clark County wineries celebrate their craft with tastings of new wines, special events and festivities throughout the holiday weekend. Check individual wineries and visit http://clarkcountywine.com for details.
When: May 24-26.
Where: Various across Clark County.
Admission: Tasting fees may apply.
Portland CityFair (Rose Festival)
What: Celebrating more than 100 years, the Portland Rose Festival kicks off with fireworks and the opening of the CityFair at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
When: May 23 through June 15.
Where: Tom McCall Waterfront Park, 50 N.W. Naito Parkway, Portland.
Admission: $5 to $7 for ages 7 and older. Free for kids 6 and younger. $50 for unlimited ride wristband.
Fort Vancouver Barracks
What: Memorial Day Ceremony and Soldiers’ Bivouac, which interprets military life over 150 years at the barracks.
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 26 at the Vancouver Barracks. Local service members will be honored at a ceremony at 11 a.m.
Where: 1001 E. Fifth St., Vancouver.