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Longview Squirrel Fest Saturday offers free family fun | Local

Longview on Saturday will once again celebrate its favorite rodent.

The Sandbaggers are handing the over reins this year to the Rotary Club of Longview, but organizers say the eighth annual Squirrel Fest will still have most of its popular features.

Starting at 9 a.m. at Happy Kids Dentistry and Orthodontics, about 650 kids will participate in the Happy Kids on the Run 5k race.

Then the parade begins at 10 a.m. at Lower Columbia College and loops around the Civic Circle. Free family-friendly games and activities will start at the same time at R.A. Long Park.

Squirrel Fest co-chair and Rotarian Denise Ferner said there are about 50 concessions and vendor booths signed up this year. And about 28 local artists will sell their work as part of Art in the Park, located across the street from the Longview Library.

Following the parade, interfaith group Family Promise will host a bed race around the civic circle during which teams push a mattress on wheels. Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit, which aims to host homeless families in local churches.

The beer garden will open at 2 p.m. and music will start around 5 p.m. For a donation of $10, attendees can hear The Strange Tones, Randy Linder’s tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival and headliners the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.

Proceeds from the beer garden will go towards the Rotary’s community projects aimed at literacy, scholarship and parks, Ferner said.

To avoid parking congestion, Koelsch Senior Communities has donated a shuttle bus and driver running from downtown Longview to R.A. Long Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Downtowners President Lindsey Cope said. Festival attendees can catch the shuttle for free in the parking lot behind Mill City Grill on 12th Avenue.

At the shuttle pick-up location, the Downtowners will hand out scavenger hunt papers to encourage people to stop into downtown businesses. Participants solve clues to get stamps from businesses on Commerce Avenue and then turn in their worksheet to either Teague’s Interiors or Time Out Ice Cream & More to be entered into a raffle. Prizes include a women’s and a men’s basket with gifts from downtown businesses, and a $50 gift card to J Squared Barrel House, Cope said.

Ferner said she hopes families take advantage of a full-day of free activities on Saturday.

“What I’m really looking forward to is people coming together as a community and enjoying what our community has to offer.”

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