There’s plenty to celebrate at the McCleary Bear Festival.
First of all, after a year without a festival during the pandemic, it’s back full-force to celebrate its 61st event on Friday.
Second of all, the bear’s back in the bear stew. Changes in regulations regarding the harvest of bears on timber lands, where the meat comes from, took it out of the stew in 2019. This year, it’s all bear.
Things kick off Friday at 5 p.m. with the coronation of the royal court — Sr. Queen Koral Young, Jr. Prince Nathan Johnston, Sr. Princess Taryn Ferrier, and Jr. Princess Lola Van Blaricom — and community ambassadors at the VFW Hall on North Summit at 5 p.m.
It’s followed by a magic show featuring JLO Magic in Beerbower Park at 6:30 p.m. At the same time, the festival queen will throw out the first pitch at the annual Guns and Hoses softball tournament, pitting the McCleary police and fire departments against one another.
Saturday morning the McCleary Civic Renewal is hosting a 1.25-mile Country Bear Fun Run. Registration starts at 8 a.m. at Summit Pacific Medical Center, the run starts at 9 a.m. At 10 a.m. the festival’s dunk tank opens up in Beerbower Park, three tries for a buck. Also at 10 a.m. there will be live music in the park with Lost Soul of a Bluesman, a blues/groove/pop act.
The streets are sure to be lined through town for the annual grand parade, starting at noon Saturday at the Simpson Door Company on North Summit and proceeding east to Third Street, then up Maple and across Sixth Street back to the door company. The parade’s grand marshal this year is local historian Charles Fattig.
A lot of that crowd will push east of the parade route to the covered kitchen area of Beerbower Park for the bear stew.
There will be family activities and games in the park, including spoon races and a water balloon toss, in the park through the afternoon. Broken Sky, a classic rock and classic country dance band, performs at 4 p.m.
More games, including the popular soap box derby, take place Sunday into the early afternoon. For a full schedule of events, check out the festival Facebook page at facebook.com/mcclearybearfestival. More information can be found on the festival website at mcclearybearfestival.org.