Under stunningly beautiful summer skies, the 3rd Annual Grazing-in-Graham festival provided wonderful opportunities for local community groups to met with neighbors and passerbys and strengthen their community connections.
Grazing-in-Graham is hosted by the Graham Business Association, and although primarily a organization to serve business interests the group often functions as a city council or community forum in the absence of any Graham-specific political figure or organization, such as a mayor or a city council.
However, attendance at Grazing was low, which disappointed many of the vendors and business people looking to sell their wares and services.
“Things have been very, very slow,” said Sherrie Mares of Pine Needle Art, a three-member artisan group from Ellensburg that has family ties to Graham. “But we’re meeting some very nice people, so we’re having fun.”
That message was echoed by many of the business owners: “Not many sales, but it’s a gorgeous day and we’re having fun.”
However, the community organizations that are in the business of building relationships had a superb time.
“Grazing-in-Graham has definitely been worthwhile,” said Jay Brower, Director of Community Relations for the Bethel School District. “Going around, talking with the visitors to the festival and the business owners – it was great. It’s my job!”
Giving further evidence of the networking power of Grazing-in-Graham, several BSD board members and candidates attended the festival.
“I didn’t win, but it’s great to be here, meet people and hear what’s on their minds,” said Rocky Carroll, a Bethel School Board candidate who did not make the top-two in the recent primary, which was won by Joy Cook and David Hamwey, with the latter making a late appearance at G-in-G.
In addition, Bethel school board member Ron Morehouse had a booth touting his emergency medical care business, and was busy discussing both local politics and receiving new customers, such as Josh Thun.
Thun was scheduled to perform an old-timey banjo set for the festival, but he drove a nail through his hand prior to taking the stage. Although he was treated at a clinic, Morehouse gave Thun’s thumb a professional inspection and also delivered advice for future carpentry mishaps.
“Remember, I make house calls or construction sites!” declared Morehouse, and Thun seemed relieved to know he could obtain medical care without the hassles of endless paper work, waiting for a doctor, and the expense of standard emergency care clinics.
Even without Josh, or his renown Gullywhumpers, Grazing had many delightful forms of entertainment, such as multiple sets of Karaoke. The latter seemed to be dominated by eleven-year old Sarah Hull who performed “Amazing Grace” at least four times, but the dancing of her sister Emily was equally delightful.
However, the Hull sisters had to share the stage with their mother, Ellen Hull, who performed an hour-long Jazzercise routine with co-instructor Danita Morrison. Together, they are expanding their Graham operation to include a site in South Hill beginning in October 1.
In addition, the canine exhibits were very popular, with a morning show by Deputy John Munson and “Floyd,” from the K-9 unit of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. In the afternoon, members of the Pet Ponderosa dog training program put their animals through various obedience routines, including negotiating an obstacle course that featured jumping through a tire and sprinting through plastic pipes.
Perhaps the big crowd favorite were the carriage rides offered free by Tammy Sell of Country Wagon of Eatonville. Pulling a western carriage that carried about a dozen passengers were a pair of powerful horses known as Percherons, and Tammy guided her steeds and wagon through the forested canopy ofFrontierPark. Personally, I was so enchanted by the gentle sway of old-time transportation that I went for four trips.
As delightful as Grazing was for attendees, festival goers did voice one disappointment – no “jumpy house” for the kids to romp in.
“The web site said there would be bounce house, but there aren’t any,” said one beseeching young mom with four youngins.
However, Grazing organizer Karen Dole denied that the GBA web site indicated that the air-filled jumping devices would be at G-in-G.
“The committee decided not to have them this year because we didn’t have enough volunteers to adequately monitor the children,” Dole said. “That’s the priority – making sure the kids are safe.”
Nevertheless, it does seem “de rigueur” that any festival occupying the Great Lawn at Frontier Park have a jumpy house or two.
However, a consistent and reliable presence was once again at Grazing-in-Graham – the fire department. The Graham Fire and Rescue Department is at every event in Frontier Park and other happenings throughout Graham – and they host their own events, too, such as scouting camp-outs at their fire stations. That profound community support is clearly paying dividends as the agency received a 71% voter approval to continue taxing levels at the current levels.
In discussion with Lt. Myra Merdian-Drake at G-in-G, the department’s participation in community events has extended its primary mission of delivering fire and medical service to include other household or personal emergencies – and not just rescuing cats out of trees!
“If something’s wrong at home – you call us,” said Merdian-Drake, “that’s how we are viewed by the citizens. We come and help you out – even if it’s little things like locking your keys in the car.”
As for the cats, Myra rolled her eyes and seemed to concur with the stated opinion that frightened felines will descend from a lofty perch when they get hungry enough.
© 2011 The Mountain News – WA