Newcastle Days returns with new and classic activities for all

August 5, 2010

By Tim Pfarr

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Several months ago, the fate of this year’s Newcastle Days celebration was up in the air. The city had little money for community events, and without a special-events producer on staff to collect sponsorships, the city was in a pinch.

However, thanks to extra effort from city staff members and volunteers, Newcastle Days — which this year marks the city’s 16th anniversary of incorporation — will be a two-day celebration featuring a sidewalk sale and festivities in Lake Boren Park.

The celebration kicks off at 3 p.m. Sept. 10 with a sidewalk sale in Newcastle’s downtown area. Those who purchase items at surrounding businesses will be entered into a raffle to be held at Sweet Decadence later that evening.

“Now, it really becomes ‘Newcastle’ Days,” said Sweet Decadence owner Sandra Wixon, as the sidewalk sale expands the celebration beyond Lake Boren Park. “Friday’s going to be a great kickoff for Saturday.”

She said the sale will also help residents get better acquainted with the local business community.

The festival picks up again at 11 a.m. the next morning in Lake Boren Park with classic Newcastle Days festivities, including live music, face painting, massive inflatable bouncy houses and pony rides. This year will also feature a pet parade, which Newcastle Days has not had before, and a beer and wine garden, a common attraction years ago.

Among the musical performers will be Alan White’s band, White, which will close out the festival that evening with a 90-minute performance. White is best known for his work as drummer for the rock band Yes.

While there will be no car show, an antique fire engine show may be in the works to commemorate Sept. 11, 2001.

Mayor John Dulcich appointed a team of volunteers, led by Parks Commissioner Koleen Morris, to organize this year’s celebration.

“I was a little nervous at first, but I’m having such a great time,” Morris said.

Joining her on the team are Parks Commissioners Suzi O’Byrne, Craig Belcher and Diane Lewis; Pam Lee, from the Newcastle Historical Society; Coal Creek Utility District Commissioner Doug Kunkle; Puget Sound Energy Municipal Liaison Manager Angela Wingate; and Wixon.

“They each have something different to bring to the table,” Morris said.

Wixon is among the members who have worked to bring the beer and wine garden back to the festival.

She said she is working to get approval from the state to also sell cases of Washington wine at the garden, which would go to support the chamber of commerce.

“With that kind of support, maybe the chamber can be even more involved next year,” she said.

Wingate and Kunkle are working to secure the beer supply.

Lewis, who is handling media relations for the group, said the celebration is coming together incredibly well, especially given the bleak outlook earlier this year.

“In January, we thought there wouldn’t be anything,” she said. “We’re feeling very enthusiastic, because we came from nothing and now things are coming together in clear form.”

She said residents have been particularly excited to hear that White will perform the closing set.

The team is still seeking vendors for the festival. Vendors for the sidewalk sale can sign up for sidewalk space until Sept. 1. Sidewalk space will cost $15, and vendors must bring their own table and other supplies.

Arts and crafts, business and nonprofit vendors for Sept. 11 in Lake Boren Park must sign up by Aug. 8. Vendor fees for Sept. 11 are between $50 and $125, depending on the use and requirements for the booth. The deadline for food vendors for Sept. 11 was Aug. 6.

Visit the festival’s website for more information on becoming a vendor.

Valley Medical Center, which donated $10,000, is the chief sponsor this year.

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