Muddy Frogwater leaps into 33rd year in Milton-Freewater

This year’s festival features several new activities, including fun runs and a beer and wine garden.

In this 2012 file photo, dancers from Ballet Folklorico move through the streets of Milton-Freewater Saturday morning with the annual parade to mark the 32nd anniversary of the Muddy Frogwater Country Festival and Corn Roast. This year's festival will not include a parade.

In this 2012 file photo, dancers from Ballet Folklorico move through the streets of Milton-Freewater Saturday morning with the annual parade to mark the 32nd anniversary of the Muddy Frogwater Country Festival and Corn Roast. This year's festival will not include a parade. Photo by Jeff Horner.

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MILTON-FREEWATER — This is the 33rd year for the Muddy Frogwater Country Classic Festival and Corn Roast in Milton-Freewater. The event takes place Friday-Sunday in Yantis Park. A variety of activities are planned, so every member of the family can find something to interest them.

Milton-Freewater’s most popular annual festival is a big event, and it takes the efforts of many dedicated volunteers to pull it off. Cheryl York, the executive director of the Milton-Freewater Chamber of Commerce, said the 16 board members, chamber staff and more volunteers all work to put the event together.

“The volunteers are absolutely essential. We couldn’t do it without them. The coordinators are all volunteers. We truly appreciate these folks,” York said.

According to York, the festival began when an annual pea festival — held in May, with floats and bands and all kinds of traditional regalia — simply ran out of steam. Something new was needed, and the Muddy Frogwater Festival was born.

Fairs and festivals offer fun for families and business opportunities for vendors and entertainers, and bring increased revenue into the area. While admission to the festival is free, there are charges for meals, games and contests.

The Ambassador Breakfast at the park gets things started on Friday morning. Later there’s a Pretty Baby Contest. You can enjoy an art show, a fun run and entertainment. There are also food and craft vendors, plenty of contests and barbecues on both Friday and Saturday evenings.

For York, this is the 13th year she’s been involved. Once Walla Walla’s Sweet Onion Festival and Milton-Freewater’s Carvin’ By the Blues are done, Muddy Frogwater is right around the corner. But the coordinators and volunteers are prepared.

“We start planning about March,” York said. “The last few weeks are when the details all come together, it has to come together.”

Part of the work is making adjustments and being flexible for things like the weather. If the hot July is any indication of the weather in August, heat will be a major consideration. “We’ve moved the church service up an hour because of the heat,” she said.

As always, the focus of the festival is on family-friendly fun and offering activities for all ages. As in previous years, the festival will fill the park with vendors and activities. However the parade has been canceled this year. “It’s a tremendous amount of volunteer work to put on a parade,” York said.

The Kiwanis Club is sponsoring the Pretty Baby Contest. For even more star power, the Talent of the Valley competition will provide more entertainment as contestants vie for prizes. Another area celebrity, Izzy the camel, (shown below, at left) will return to the festival this year.

With an event over three decades old, it’s important to continue these tried-and-true popular events while introducing new activities to keep things fresh. New this year — and highly anticipated — are the Family Fun Runs. These are being organized by Erik Von Volkinburg, family pastor at First Christian Church. “This year we are thrilled to bring Erik on,” York said.

“Another new thing this year is the beer garden,” she said. “It will be country-wine style in the north shelter, with licensed servers. I think we’ll have wine and beer, both. The art show has been moved to Central School.”

But some things don’t change, like taking the family to a summer community festival for good, wholesome fun.

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