The 31st Annual Muddy Frogwater Festival saw many of the traditional crowd pleasers, like the community talent.
Not including first-time talent show contestants, there were also a few other first appearances for the three-day event that draws upwards of 5,000 people to Richard Yantis Memorial Park. Among those new items were spores, sports and the number Thirty-one.
The talent is still what caught the attention of most festival-goers Saturday afternoon, as spectators sat on hay bales, stood or milled about, while performers such as Nicole Goff, 21, Walla Walla, tried to qualify as a finalist and possibly win the top prize of $500.
"I have never really done this before," Goff said prior to her performance, with a guitar strapped to her back as she waited her turn. "I just thought I would try it and stand out there and see if I can win something."
Goff, a solo singer and guitarist who writes her own music, was one of dozens of contestants who are competing this weekend.
Sandi Hinds, 65, of Hermiston also writes her own music, sings solo, but plays piano instead of guitar, which was turning out to be a problem because at 12:30 p.m. there was still no sign of a full piano on stage - just a small electronic keyboard.
"They were supposed to have a piano here. I hope this works," Hinds said.
If she wins, Hinds said she would use the money to further her and her husband's outreach ministry to the homeless.
"That's all I am doing this for. It is to make money to do the ministry," she said, adding that win or lose it would still benefit Upbeat Ministries.
"Even if I don't win a dime, it still makes me better known in the area to go and introduce our ministry," Hinds said.
Along with the singing and playing during the talent show, traditional sounds and smells of the festival settled throughout the park: the din of children's screams as they slid and bounced on the numerous inflatable rides; bingo numbers being called out by the covered seating area; country music piped over the outdoor speakers when the talent show wasn't taking place; the occasional kiddy-ride train whistle; and everywhere was the heavy smell of charcoal briquettes still gaining their heat for the Rotary Club's traditional chicken barbecue fundraiser.
There were also some not-so-traditional sights at this year's festival, the most notable was the debut of the Milton Freewater Youth Sports Association new sports complex design.
The proposed $6.6 million design was set up at the Mac-Hi cheerleaders booth, where they sold root-beer and orange-soda floats to raise money.
A few rows back, Amy Cottrill, 34, of Touchet, set up what she said was the first Thirty-one booth for Muddy Frogwater, and most likely the entire Valley.
Cottrill said she is the only rep in the area and started three weeks ago as a "independent consultant" for the nationwide distribution company with 40,000 reps, 190 of them are in Washington state, and now one in the Walla Walla Valley.
"People come up to me all the time, in parking lots, and ask me what is Thirty-one," she said, agreeing the name is a mystery to most people.
"It's from Proverbs 31, the virtuous women," she explained.
As for what Thirty-one is: It is a line of women's bags and purses that can be personalized with different patterns.
Vendor Kelsey Albro also brought something new to Muddy Frogwater this year: an edible fungus that you can grown in your kitchen.
"People love how fast it is, also how prolific it is," Albro said, showing off a small stand of oyster mushrooms that seemed to magically sprout out of the side of a brown box the size of a milk carton.
The box is actually filled with old coffee grounds and cultivated with mycelium to sprout oyster mushrooms in 10 days once the seal is broken.
Each box produces two harvest of 1.5 pounds each - though Albro said more harvests are often produced - and the cost is $20 per box, with a festival special of two boxes for $30.
Albro is the Seattle marketing rep for the Oakland, Calif.-based company called Back to the Roots.
It was her first trip to the Walla Walla area, and on Saturday she hauled 80 boxes for display at Muddy Frogwater.
While it didn't look like the fungi where flying of her table, she sold a few, and also noted that growing your own mushrooms is something that appeals to the true epicurean.
"The people who generally love it are foodies, people who love fresh foods," she added.
She was also here to visit her father who lives in Walla Walla.
For those foodies who are into fresh vegetables, the corn doesn't get much fresher than what will be served at today's traditional corn roast and watermelon feed.
Each year, the Milton-Freewater Chamber of Commerce makes arrangement to have a full apple bin of corn picked early Sunday morning by a local grower.
The corn is then served with watermelon, coleslaw, a hotdog and a drink for $7, as part of the main fundraiser for the Chamber.
The third and final day of the community talent show also takes place today, as well as the traditional Fireman's Water Fight.
The Muddy Frogwater Festival is free and open to the public, and is located at the corner of Dehaven Street and Southwest Second Avenue.
Alfred Diaz can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8325.
- 8 a.m. Softball Tournament-Adults (co-ed teams).
- 8:45-10 a.m. Chamber Donuts & Coffee; TBA Kite Flying Demonstration.
- 10-11 a.m. Community Worship Service.
- 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Concessions And Kiddie Land open.
- 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Muddy Frogwater Square Dancers at Yantis Park.
- 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Corn Roast And Watermelon Feed at Yantis Park; TBA Bingo.
- noon-4 p.m. Harvest Time Fine Arts Show.
- 1 p.m. Talent of the Valley Finals.
- 3-4 p.m. Harvest Time Fine Arts Show Award Presentation.
- 3 p.m.-4 p.m. Fireman's Water fight on Dehaven Street.