Turning 100 years old is a big deal, and Woodland Planters Days is no exception. After two years of online events due to COVID-19 safety concerns, Woodland’s beloved annual festival is back with a bang — literally.
The four-day event will kick off on June 16 with a fireworks show, as well as parades and the coronation of the 100th Planters Days queen. The festival continues through June 19 with events in various locations, but mostly on the grassy shores of Horseshoe Lake, just west of Interstate 5.
“Planters Days has traditionally been a time when people come back to their hometown,” said Jim Bays, secretary of the 2022 Woodland Planters Days board. “There could be 20,000 people milling around town and people see each other in the street. Everyone’s really looking forward to it.”
Bays said 70 members of the Planters Days Royal Court, past and present, will reunite at this year’s event.
“We’ve identified almost every living member of a Planters Days Royal Court since its inception and we’ve invited them to come be in the parade on a special float,” Bays said. “We have Royal Court members coming from as far back as 1946.”
Frog jump, car show
Amply whiskered attendees can enter the beard and mustache contest, a throwback to the original Planters Days a century ago. Hirsute contenders can pay $10 to enter in advance at Classic Hair Design at 142 Davidson Ave. in Woodland or by calling 360-225-2123. Hairy hopefuls can also pay $15 to enter the contest at 10 a.m. June 19 on the Hoffman Plaza stage. Proceeds benefit the Lelooska Foundation and Cultural Center.
On June 18, the main parade begins at 11 a.m., followed by the Fireman’s Barbecue at noon (held in conjunction with a new event, the Planters Days Beerfest from noon to 7 p.m.), the military vehicles show from 12:30-3:30 p.m., and bed races are at 4 p.m.
The popular Rose City Classics car show will include a “controlled cruise” through downtown Woodland at 7 p.m. June 18 and a show-and-shine from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 19, with awards at 2:30 p.m. (It’s $15 to enter a car; for more details, see planters-days.com/cruise-in-car-show.)
For many festivalgoers, the most important event isn’t a parade or car shows. It’s the frog jump at 1:30 p.m. June 19 at the gazebo in Horseshoe Lake Park.
“The Hansen family started doing this event 55 years ago,” Bays said. “They provide little prizes, like a $15 gift card or something. Everybody takes turns jumping their frogs and they measure how far the frog jumped and the longest jumps get prizes. After Planters Days, the frogs are released back where they came from. This is something that generations of Woodland people have done.”
Fun Fest, Bingo Bash
Bays relayed the sad news that the carnival isn’t happening this year.
“A number of the traveling carnival shows have gone out of business over the last couple of years because of COVID. The one we contracted with went out of business and the one we had as a secondary fallback can’t do it,” Bays said. “The good news is we’ll have the Planters Days Fun Fest.”
The fun fest is a kids’ play zone happening all four days in Horseshoe Park featuring a dozen inflatables and games. To enter, kids can purchase a wristband for $10 or $15, Bays said. Proceeds will go to Woodland High School class of 2023.
Locals are especially looking forward to the Planter’s Days Centennial Buffet and Bingo Bash on June 17, Bays said, a fundraiser for the Woodland Historical Museum Society at the newly reopened Oak Tree Restaurant at 1020 Atlantic Ave. The event will include a buffet dinner at 5 p.m. followed by bingo at 7 p.m.
Bays is proud of the fact that many Planters Days events are fundraisers for Woodland nonprofits like the Lelooska Foundation and the Woodland Rotary Club. Planters Days is a product of true community spirit, he said, and nearly everyone in town is involved in some way, from individual volunteers to civic groups to local companies.
“You can’t believe how many businesses sponsor some of these events and kick in money toward them,” Bays said.
Some of that money will go straight back into people’s pockets during the raffle drawing at 3 p.m. June 19, with cash prizes totaling $7,500. For just $1 per ticket, folks will have a chance at first prize ($5,000), second prize ($1,000) or third prize ($500). This year, there’s an additional centennial grand prize of $1,000, Bays said, plus about 100 small prizes donated by local businesses.
Bays emphasized that Planters Days isn’t just for Woodland residents. It’s open to anyone who wants to enjoy a day (or two or three) of friendly, small-town fun — especially the fireworks show at dusk on opening night, Bays said. He knows that people in the area will be eager to see the sparkly summertime display, especially since the Historic Trust has canceled its 2022 Independence Day fireworks show at Fort Vancouver.
“Our fireworks show should be our biggest and best that we’ve ever had,” Bays said. “In the past it’s been pretty much a local thing but we’d be delighted if people want to come up from Clark County.”