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The Clatskanie Festival is returning for its fifth year this year, with different guidelines in place this time around due to COVID-19 precautions.

It will be held from Friday, July 31 to Sunday, Aug. 2 at Poysky’s Park in Clatskanie, and as always, “Let the light shine” is the theme.

Festival organizer Lori Sherman talked to The Chief about the new restrictions that will be in place. Because Columbia County is in Phase 2 of reopening, gatherings at outdoor venues – including the events that will be held at the Clatskanie Festival-- are restricted to up to 250 people.

“The only events we’ve kept are the ones where we can social distance,” Sherman said.

That restriction will be enforced at all events at Poysky’s Park, where the festival will be held, according to Sherman. Sherman had originally planned to use both the park and an empty city lot behind FINS Custom Tackle and Café, but said she decided against it because enforcing social distancing was easier at the park.

One of the most popular events, the lawnmower racing, will be held there on Sunday, Aug. 2 from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

“We have enough room to have people there,” Sherman said.

Because it’s a family event, families will be able to be placed together, Sherman said. For seats, Colvin’s restaurant in Clatskanie and people in the community donated buckets, and people are also allowed to bring their own lawnchairs, according to Sherman. There will be hay bails out as well, and hand sanitation stations will be available on site, Sherman said.

There is one event that will not be at Poysky’s Park and that is another very popular one, according to Sherman– the evening light parade, which starts at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, and will go down Nehalem Street.

Each year, local organizations register and decorate their own floats with lights that glow in the dark. This year something unique will take place: the grand marshal will be approximately 30 different people, who are all essential workers, Sherman said.

According to Sherman, the essential workers come from all over and hold many different jobs, from grocery store staff to healthcare workers. They will lead the parade on foot, in cars, and on floats, Sherman said.

Animals featured in the parade will be in their trailers throughout, so that they don’t have to turn around and go back the same route when the parade is over, Sherman said.

The next day, from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 2, there will be live music, again with social distancing measures in place.

“We’re going to have plenty of room for people to sit and listen to music,” Sherman said. She also said she is thinking of having an open mic karaoke.

Other staple events will be taking place throughout the weekend, like the cake walk, the petting zoo, and an all-school class reunion, all with their own social distancing protocols in place.

At the cake walk, the squares of carpet for participants to step on will be spaced six feet apart, and baked goods will come pre-packaged from Safeway and Stuffy’s Restaurant in Longview, Washington, according to Sherman. The petting zoo will have each individual animal enclosed in a separate cage, with the children allowed to enter one by one to pet the animal, Sherman said. Masks will be required, with pet zoo owner Tressa Harris offering masks to participants.

The class reunion will take place under a large tent with all sides open except for the far back, Sherman said. There will be chairs available, and people will be spaced six feet apart from each other, something Sherman said would be fine for the purpose of the event.

“Six feet isn’t actually that far to be talking. There won’t be any noise at that time,” Sherman said.

If the event does reach 250 participants – something event managers will keep track of, because participants are required to sign a waiver—the event will not allow additional people in, Sherman said.

Sherman said she is looking forward to the event.

“We’re hoping for another great year, and if people want to come join us to have a fun, safe weekend, they sure can, even with our social distancing, doing what we need to do to let the light shine, especially at a time where it seems hopeless,” Sherman said. “It’s to bring hope to family and neighboring community.”

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