The Rhubarb Days Festival in downtown Sumner last weekend was bigger and better than ever.
“I bet we’ve had over 5,000 people here so far today,” said Laurie Miller, program manager for the Sumner Downtown Association.
Miller’s estimate came at about 1:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon, the first of the two-day, third annual festival.
“All the extra things added this year have made a huge difference,” Miller said. “We didn’t have craft vendors in 2012, we didn’t have a farmers market last year, and we didn’t have music all day in the park.”
The festival boasted 48 vendors who filled the streets of Kincaid and Cherry set around Heritage Park, where live music played non-stop in the gazebo from 11:30 a.m. to 9 on Saturday night. The entertainers included the Will Power Big Band, John Hoover and the Quinns, The Hillbilly Soul Strutters and 5 Live. On Sunday, the music continued from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and featured country duo Scott and Dani.
Of the vendors, 35 were craft booths and the rest included service and nonprofit organizations.
The festival also included a small beer garden in front of the Sumner Downtown Association office, where adults could purchase suds supplied by the Northwest Brewing Company, a Pacific-based brewery that was celebrating its one-year anniversary. A featured beverage included the Beach Blonde, which was infused with strawberry rhubarb in the spirit of the festival.
“I’ve heard nothing but positive comments about the Beach Blonde,” said Jeremy Metzler, a volunteer who supported the beer garden.
Robert Baker, who heard a glowing review of the Beach Blonde from his girlfriend, Kim Wilkinson, decided to try a pint.
“The blonde is a very refreshing beer,” he said.
Baker and Wilkinson traveled to Sumner from Auburn after they heard about the festival through friends.
“We decided to come on down because it’s a beautiful day,” Wilkinson said. “It’s a fun time here. It smells good.”
Everything from the fresh fruits and vegetables at the McDonald Farmers Market, to the beef strips, to the fresh corn on the cob and the rhubarb pies sold at Dixie’s Home Cooking and Miss Cathy’s Incredibles combined for an irresistible scent that wafted through the summertime air.
Meanwhile, children walked hand-in-hand with their parents, grandparents and, in some cases, great-grandparents.
Manuel and Nan Cruz went to the festival with their daughter Raquel Cantu, granddaughters Christina Cantu and Katie Phaff and great-grandson Karson Phaff. They all visited the petting zoo, sponsored by Jubilee Naturals, the Sumner High School Future Farmers of America Club and Sumner Animal Grub. About six students in the club volunteered to run the zoo, which included baby chicks, a pig and a 6-month-old female sheep named Rosie.
“It’s fun to watch the kids interact,” said David Kurz, 15, a sophomore at Sumner High School.
A fun activity for little ones was provided by the Rainier Antique Tractor Club, which brought four models of antique tractors dating from the 1940s and ’50s. Children sat in the tractors for pictures. Even a 94-year-old woman enjoyed a time in the seat, club member Al Harper said.
Bennett Crumb, 3, had the time of his life.
“I like tractors,” he said. “They’re super cool.”
His mother, Jaymie Crumb, looked on with a smile.
Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.