LONGVIEW — The “nuttiest event in the northwest” is back Saturday with more activities and vendors after COVID-19 limited last year’s celebration.
The 11th annual Squirrel Fest at Longview’s Civic Center is mostly free to the public and includes vendors, activities, concerts and a beer garden.
“The purpose of this event is to be a free family event for the community,” said Emiley Siters, rotary member and organizer. “It’s not something we’re trying to make a profit on, we’re trying to put it out for the community to enjoy.”
The festival kicks off at 10 a.m. with a welcoming ceremony with local sports mascot Sandy B. McNutt, followed by performances and activities, including Reptile Roadshow, balloon art, magicians, obstacle courses and face painting.
The Happy Kids On-the-Run fun run won’t be held this year but will hopefully return next year, Siters said.
The festival will have 80 vendors, including Art in the Park, Siters said. Art in the Park is held by the Columbian Artists Association and runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Civic Center.
Lower Columbia School Gardens will offer a community pizza making station, using vegetables grown in the school gardens.
KLOG, KUKN and The Wave will hold hourly squirrel bridge tours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $10.
The beer garden opens at 10 a.m., where those 21 and older can participate in a cornhole tournament. The beer garden is free to enter until 2 p.m., when a $5 fee is charged ahead of the concerts.
Saturday’s Squirrel Fest schedule
- 10 a.m.: Official opening of vendors, “Nut House,” beer garden and activities
- 10 a.m.: Sandy B. McNutt welcoming ceremony
- 10 a.m.: Corn hole tournament begins
- 11 a.m.: Squirrel bridge tour at staging area, $10
- 12 p.m.: Squirrel bridge tour at staging area, $10
- 1 p.m.: Squirrel bridge tour at staging area, $10
- 2 p.m.: Squirrel bridge tour at staging area, $10
- 3 p.m.: Squirrel bridge tour at staging area, $10
- 3 p.m.: Rockit Radio concert starts
- 4 p.m.: Squirrel bridge tour at staging area, $10
- 5 p.m.: Art in the Park closes
- 7 p.m.: Petty Fever concert starts
- 8 p.m.: Cornhole tournament ends
- 10 p.m.: Beer garden closes, concert ends
Rockit Radio, a mostly ‘80s and ‘90s cover band, starts at 3 p.m. and Petty Fever, a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tribute band, starts at four hours later. The concert stage is inside the beer garden but is also visible from outside the fence, Siters said.
At the “Nut House” in the gazebo, Bigfoot Screen Printing will sell Squirrel Fest t-shirts in a variety of colors for $25.
The annual festival was organized by the Sandbaggers in 2011 as a community event tied to the nearby Nutty Narrows Squirrel Bridge. The Rotary Club of Longview took over running the event in 2019.
After the event was canceled in 2020, organizers last year didn’t know they could hold the event until a couple months in advance, limiting vendors and activities, Siters said. This year, planning started far in advance and rotary had more time to organize and promote the event, she said.