Short Stories by Pat Nelson

Window on Woodland - Planters' Days 2013

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June 2013
By Pat Nelson - Reprinted with permission

Woodland will burst with excitement when it kicks off its 91st Planters' Days celebration June 13. The carnival on Horseshoe Lake opens Thursday, June 13 at 3P.M., and soon after, kids with chalk in hand will decorate downtown sidewalks while they wait for the beginning of the 5P.M. children's parade. Many years ago, I proudly marched in the parade alongside my grandchildren Max and Chelsea. Max, in a green-feathered bird suit, pulled his little sister through town in a wagon. Now, they are both teenagers, and more interested in the 10P.M. fireworks that shoot high in the sky and reflect beautifully off Horseshoe Lake.

Most who look forward to Planters' Days weekend each year have probably forgotten . . . or never knew . . . the meaning of the celebration. Over 90 years ago, Woodland's farmers worried about their crops every year because of the threat of flooding from the nearby Lewis and Columbia rivers. Once dikes were constructed, the farmers and the community celebrated, and 91 years later, the party continues.

This year Planters' Days will host a new carnival, Davis Amusement Cascadia, with some different rides and an advance-sale wristband that will be available for purchase at Woodland's Burgerville. The wristband, on sale for $23 prior to the beginning of Planters' Days, appears to be a better value than wristbands in previous years because it will be good for a full day, both daytime and evening hours.

For me, watching the carnival set up can be as thrilling as riding the rides. One year, I took photos of a carnival worker as he assembled a large circular ride. Watching him climb the high structure to complete the assembly took my breath away.

Back in the 1930's, the fire department started serving food on Planters' Days weekend. Now, with the generous support of Walt's Meats supplying the beef and Burgerville supplying the buns, the fire department continues the tradition by serving barbecued-beef sandwiches on the Saturday of Planters' Days weekend. Long lines will stretch through Horseshoe Lake Park Saturday, June 15 as people await the annual treat.

On March 1, 2013, Woodland's firefighters joined with Clark County Fire and Rescue, and this year Captain Mike Jackson is happy to say about the Firefighters' Barbecue, “there will be a few more hands to make it happen.” According to Jackson, the firemen start getting ready for the event months in advance by gathering firewood. On Thursday of Planters' Days weekend, they will get the pit ready, with the help of the Public Works department. Early Friday morning, they will start the fire that will cook the beef to perfection. By the time Saturday's parade draws to a close, there will already be a long line in Horseshoe Lake Park at the Firefighters' Barbecue. I admitted to Captain Jackson that one year when I saw flames shooting above the roofline of Horseshoe Lake's outdoor kitchen, I called the fire department . . . and learned that it was their fire I had called to report!

The Saturday parade starts at 11A.M. but I always try to get there early to set out some chairs and to enjoy the excitement of the little kids waiting to see the horses, fire trucks and clowns. If you don't take in the breakfast buffet at the Moose Lodge or the pancake breakfast at the VFW hall, there's still plenty to eat along the parade route, from Woodland's local family-owned restaurants to fundraiser stands offering baked potatoes, kielbasa and corn on the cob to many weekend-market food stands and, of course, the carnival food wagons.

With activities in downtown Woodland and on Horseshoe Lake all day Saturday, there's no reason to head home after the parade. The hard decision will be deciding which events to see: the antique farm equipment display, the weekend market, the carnival, the firemen's barbecue, the military vehicle show, the frog jump, the penny scramble, the firemen's muster, the bed races, the RC boat show, the duck-boat rides, or the cruise-in. If it's a hot day, you'll find me playing in the lake, where I'll have a good view of the carnival and many of the activities.

June 16, Father's Day, is sure to be lots of fun, starting with a breakfast buffet at the Moose Lodge or a biscuits and gravy breakfast at the VFW Hall, the 4x4 Show and Shine, and a car show featuring hundreds of shiny classic cars lining downtown streets, plus a talent show.

Planters' Days weekend has helped my family create memories for the past 15 years. Take in the events and let Planters' Days weekend create memories for your family!

Copyright 2013 Pat Nelson. Reprinted with permission: The Valley Bugler, Longview, WA and Pat Nelson, Woodland, WA

What: Planters' Days Weekend Celebration
When: Thursday – Sunday June 13– 16
Where: Horseshoe Lake Park and Davidson Street, Downtown Woodland
Event Schedule: http://www.plantersdays.com/forms/2013_planters_days_schedule.pdf

Bio: Pat Nelson, writer and editor, is co-creator of three humorous and sometimes edgy anthologies: Not Your Mother's Books: On Parenting (publication date September 10, 2013), On Grandparenting and On Working for a Living (both still accepting stories at www.PublishingSyndicate.com). Nelson blogs at www.storystorm.me and her stories appear at www.LewisRiver.com.

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