This article has been updated since its original publication.
WALLA WALLA — A two-day community fair at Pioneer Park will fill a void created when new organizers took over this year’s Walla Walla Balloon Stampede running May 8-11.
The fair, Spring Fling, to be held May 9-10, was created after Stampede organizers announced there would be no similar event to coincide with the hot-air balloon event this year.
“Spring Fling is totally separate,” event coordinator Liz Pierce said. “It will not have anything to do with the balloons because this event itself is in a totally separate location.”
In February, the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce, who ran the event for two decades, announced it was turning it over to Boise balloonists Scott and Laurie Spencer.
Officials also said, the Nite Glow would be moved to Walla Walla Community College and there would be no vendors, performers and rides set up at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds.
Pierce, a longtime Stampede volunteer, said she felt compelled to organize a fair to take place of the canceled portion of the event. She said proceeds raised at Spring Fling will go to the nonprofit Children’s Wishes & Dreams, which raises money to pay for the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses.
The questions that remain are how many people will attend Spring Fling and can Pioneer Park accommodate them.
Even if it draws one-fourth of the 40,000 visitors that the Chamber said attended previous Stampedes, Spring Fling would be the second largest event for Pioneer Park. Fourth of July in the Park is currently the largest event, and according to event coordinators some years have seen more than 12,000 visitors.
“Fourth of July in the Park I think will still remain the largest one because it has a draw,” Parks and Recreation Director Jim Dumont said, but he noted that officials won’t know until the inaugural Spring Fling takes place.
Dumont said Pierce was required to provide a number of safeguards before being allowed to hold the event. They include hiring security, providing portable bathrooms and washing stations, maintaining adequate handicapped parking, refuse containers and providing clean-up.
Pierce said she knows parking will be the hardest issue for attendees and residents near Pioneer Park. She said she will reach out to neighbors to give them notice of the throng to come for two days.
“We will go around about a week before the event saying to neighbors that we are going to be here and if there are problems here is my number,” Pierce said. “But they’re used to the Fourth of July being there.”
Pierce said Spring Fling will be set up like Fourth of July, and added she has nearly 50 vendors committed to setting up along the circular drive in the park. Event hours will be Friday 2-10 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The event also will have live entertainment, with performances ending by 9 p.m. to accommodate neighbors.
Other than a few bouncy castles, the event will not feature any rides. Nor will there be any tethered hot air balloons, which were common at previous Balloon Stampede fairs.
“We will not because we just don’t have a spot to put them,” Pierce said.
Alfred Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8325.
This article was updated on April 11, 2014 at 11:36 a.m. to reflect the following correction:
There will be no change in the number of launches at Garrison Middle School. The original article incorrectly stated that the number of launches would be reduced.