An energized and motivated group of downtown Sumner merchants are intent on making this weekend’s annual Rhubarb Days festival one that the community will not soon forget.
The Sumner Downtown Association, which had run Rhubarb Days since its inception, closed its doors earlier this summer.
The Sumner Downtown Promotion Association, a relatively new group of business owners striving to work together to “stimulate economic growth, enhance beautification, nurture historic preservation and insure the vitality of downtown Sumner through promotions and events,” according to its mission statement, gladly took over the task of organizing and running the festival.
“We decided that if we were going to put our seal on it, we wanted to make it great,” said Suzanne Kipfer, Sumner Downtown Promotion Association president.
“The (SDPA) put a lot of hard work and energy into this festival, and it promises to be fun for everyone,” added Carmen Palmer, the city’s communications director.
The family friendly two-day festival, which runs Saturday (July 15) and Sunday (July 16), celebrates Sumner’s rhubarb growing roots with a fresh take on old-fashioned fun. The SDPA has planned for a rhubarb-inspired bake-off, a pie eating contest, live music, activities for kids, and shopping options that are sure to please festivalgoers in Heritage Park and on the streets of downtown Sumner.
“Our board and members are working really hard to revitalize historic downtown Sumner and make it a fun, family friendly place,” Kipfer said. “We want to instill a sense of community and get people back to feeling good about their community.”
Rhubarb Days is one of many events that the young association is revamping, and after the hard work of planning and organizing the festival, members are excited to see the community’s reception.
“Sumner residents and people who don’t live in Sumner usually come out for this great community event,” said Louann Spencer, SDPA treasurer. “This year I’m most looking forward to the new crowd of people who may be coming to our event for the first time and want to come back next year.”
The Sumner High School band will kick off Rhubarb Days at 10 a.m. Saturday. With “newsies” handing out the Rhubarb Times and schedules of the weekend’s events, there will never be a dull moment. The festival offers 80 vendors to shop from, a craft station for kids to make vegetable art and race cars, and live music to enjoy throughout the weekend.
This free event provides an opportunity for what Kipfer hopes will bring the community together in a positive way and give Sumner residents and visitors a sense of involvement in the town.