By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

It promises to be a bang-up Fourth in Willamina

Starting at 6 p.m. Friday, Lamson Park will be the site of a barbecue and live music by Dedric Clark and the Social Animals. This kickoff to a full day of events on the Fourth serves as a fundraiser for the celebration.


An adult meal — chicken, salad and watermelon — will be priced at $6. Kids will get a hot dog and everything else for $3.

Katie Vinson, who co-owns Willamina’s Wildwood Hotel on West Main Street with her sister, Meredith Kendall, helps organize the evening of good food and good music.

“Growing up and going to (the celebration), that was part of our childhood,” Vinson said. “I remember the logging show when I was little, the pancake breakfast at Fendall Hall and the fireworks. It’s neat to come full circle and still be a part of all those things.”

Vinson reached out to Dedric Clark and the Social Animals to provide this year’s entertainment.

“It just happened,” she said of the Portland group’s availability. “I was talking to them about playing at the hotel, lining up some dates they had open. We didn’t have anyone yet (for the July 3 event).”

The band will also play before the fireworks show on the Fourth. Guitarist Clark is joined by Tony Petersen on guitar and banjo, Roger Whittet on bass and Boyd Smith on drums. To further sharpen their focus on making music, the group relocated from Minnesota to Portland, according to their website.

“The main reason we moved was to free ourselves from the distractions of home, even if some of them are good distractions,” Clark said. “We wanted to be in a place where we only concentrate on the band, and we can play constantly.”

Clark said the group is committed to a certain free and easy spirit, especially when it comes to their live performances.

“We keep it fun for the crowd,” Clark said. “We want them to feel connected to what we’re singing about, but also to get up and move around if they’re feeling it. Playful with an edge of seriousness is what we aim for.”

Vinson characterized the group as an “innovative” band, whose music should appeal to all age groups.

Starting at 7 a.m. Saturday, the annual Kiwanis pancake breakfast will launch Independence Day activities. For the first time, the breakfast will be served at the West Valley Community Campus instead of historic Fendall Hall.

Pancakes, scrambled eggs, ham, coffee and juice will be available until 11 a.m. Cost is $6 for adults and $4 for children 12 and younger. Proceeds will go toward Kiwanis projects.

A parade starts at 6 at the old Conifer Plywood Mill site and heads west on Main Street. Fireworks follow at dusk; the show can be viewed from the Willamina High School football stadium and field, on the West Valley Community Campus.

This year’s parade grand marshals are Jean Pearson and May Shipley Snow.

Pearson moved to the West Valley from Nebraska and graduated from Willamina High. Snow arrived in town as a war bride. Both became members of the VFW Auxiliary and other groups supporting the community.

As VFW Auxiliary members, they have helped organize clothing and food drives, sold “Buddy Poppies” to celebrate Memorial Day, placed flags on veterans’ graves, sent care packages to troops, assembled and distributed food baskets for senior citizens, veterans and their families during the Christmas season and assisted with monthly VFW breakfasts.

If You Go

What: Willamina Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration.

Where: Throughout the community.

When: Friday and Saturday, July 3 and 4.

Friday highlights:
Community barbecue with music by Dedric Clark and the Social Animals, Lamson Park/Southwest Lamson Street, 6 p.m.

Saturday highliights:
- Kiwanis pancake breakfast, West Valley Community Campus, 7 a.m.
- Vendors’ row, B Street, 9 a.m.
- Pony rides, D Street, 9 a.m.
- Logging jamboree, Walsh Trucking yard/Willamina Creek Road, 9:30 a.m.
- Kids’ Zone, Tina Miller Park, adjacent to city hall, First Street, 10 a.m.
- Valve cover races, West Valley Community Campus, 11 a.m.
- Reach Helicopter and West Valley Fire District equipment display, West Valley Community Campus, 11 a.m.
- Car show judging, West Valley Community Campus, noon; arm wrestling, gazebo, 2 p.m.
- Parade assembly, old Conifer Plywood Mill site, 3-4 p.m. (there will be no parking on Main Street beginning at 4)
- Parade judging, 5 p.m.
- Parade, 6 p.m.
- Fireworks, West Valley Community Campus, dusk.


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