Hundreds of people of all ages lined Simpson and Third streets in downtown McCleary Saturday for the 60th annual Bear Festival parade and celebration.
The grand parade kicked off at noon, right after the kiddie parade, with a mix of local and regional entries. The festival draws a good number of floats from the state festival circuit, including Olympia’s Capital Lakefair, the Port Townsend Rhody Festival, the Port Orchard Fathoms of Fun Festival, Olympia Harbor Days, and the Sequim Irrigation Festival.
More local entries included the pirate ship Black Rose crewed by the Ocean Shores Pirates, the Hoquiam Loggers Playday float and royal court, Elma Youth Cheer, High Impact Dance Academy and many others.
At the head of the parade were McCleary Mayor Brenda Orffer, the 2019 Bear Festival royal court, and a line of cars carrying past court members.
This year’s Bear Festival parade grand marshal was Edith Soller, who moved to McCleary from Kansas about 80 years ago. She is the daughter of former McCleary Mayor Ernie Beerbower and has two daughters who were Bear Festival queens in the 1970s. She’s well known for her countless hours of volunteering for the annual festival through the decades.
As the parade wound down, hundreds made their way to the line for the festival’s famous stew. Ron Pittman, a retired McCleary firefighter, has been making bear stew for decades; but this year, for the first time, he had to use beef instead. That didn’t stop the steady line of festival-goers from grabbing a plate. (He hopes to have bear meat again next year.)
Music and entertainment continued into the evening. The main stage at Beerbower Park featured the Fabulous Murphtones and the Olson Band, and vendors selling all manner of crafts were set up around the baseball field, where the annual Guns and Hoses softball tournament went on through Sunday.
The annual car show rounded out the weekend on Sunday, with more live music from Monica Drake and Dewayne Brady, Kynan Shane and the band Humor and Heart.
This year’s Bear Festival logo was drawn by McCleary seventh-grader David Hooper. It was chosen from among 12 entries from local students from kindergarten through eighth grade.
More photos at www.thedailyworld.com.