City of Camas celebrates history and future at 2017 Camas Days

Michael McCormic, Jr.
Michael McCormic, Jr.

Michael McCormic, Jr.
For ClarkCountyToday.com

CAMAS — The 43rd Annual Camas Days brought residents from across Clark County together to appreciate fine arts and small businesses as the city of Camas reflected on its history and looked towards a bright future.

As it does every year, the Camas Days celebration in downtown Camas attracted an optimistic and excited crowd. Blue skies overhead meant plenty of festival-goers would be seeking shade under the canopy of trees that line 4th Avenue, along which dozens of local vendors ranging from photographers to metal artists had pitched tents to sell their wares.

Residents and visitors flocked to downtown Camas Friday and Saturday for the 2017 Camas Days celebration. Saturday’s events included the annual parade. Photo by Mike Schultz
Residents and visitors flocked to downtown Camas Friday and Saturday for the 2017 Camas Days celebration. Saturday’s events included the annual parade. Photo by Mike Schultz

Sponsored by the Camas Mill (Georgia-Pacific), a historically significant business in the area, and other area businesses, Camas Days shows that it is all about helping the future of residents by promoting small business growth, while also recognizing the history that past and present businesses have shaped within the city.

On Sat., July 22, the much-anticipated Camas Days Grand Parade got underway at 11 a.m. The theme of this year’s parade was “Once Upon a Time,” inviting participants and spectators alike to bring a fairytale to life on 4th Avenue.

The title of Grand Marshal of the parade was shared by two outstanding coaches from Camas High School, Jon Eagle, the head coach of the Camas football team, and Michelle Pillette, the assistant coach for the Camas High School girls soccer team. Both teams won state titles during the past year.

The official start of the festival was Friday, which kicked off the two-day long celebration with the grand opening of the vendors’ booths, which spanned approximately six city blocks in total. Also on Friday, the annual Kid’s Street fun zone opened on Dallas Street and 4th Avenue, much to the joy of young adventurers who did not share their parents desire to shop around at the vendors’ booths.

Steve Danielson has been running Kid’s Street for the past 10 years. After spending so many Camas Days providing entertainment to the younger generation in attendance, he claims that he sees more and more how proud people are of the Camas community.

“These people, I don’t know all their names, but I recognize the people, and it’s the same people that live in Camas again and again,” Danielson explains.

The Kid’s Street fun zone had a rock wall, fast-pitch batting cage, and three separate inflatable bounce houses and obstacle courses. The children who made use of these resources were, of course, delighted.

Members of Camas VFW Post 4278 had the honor of carrying the flags in the 2017 Camas Days parade Saturday. Photo by Mike Schultz
Members of Camas VFW Post 4278 had the honor of carrying the flags in the 2017 Camas Days parade Saturday. Photo by Mike Schultz

A few blocks east of Kid’s Street, another group of young festival-goers shriek in joy and laughter as Pat Ray, firehose in hand, drenches the onlooking crowd with a stream of cool water.

The people gathered around Ray were in attendance to witness an event that does not happen often outside of Camas: Bathtub Races. This event involved teams of three racing a bathtub with three wheels, a steering column, and a brake in a weaving motion between sets of traffic cones. Ray, the official starter and referee for this event, filled the bathtubs with water at the start of each race, and hosed down the onlooking crowd for good measure.

“I think we had eight teams, it’s a local event, and it’s world champion bathtub racing,” Ray explains, sporting his paint-splatter style suit. “There’s no place else in the world that does this this way.”

More than a few eye-popping vehicles were just a few of the attractions featured in the 2017 Camas Days parade Saturday. Photo by Mike Schultz
More than a few eye-popping vehicles were just a few of the attractions featured in the 2017 Camas Days parade Saturday. Photo by Mike Schultz

Pat Ray moved to California in 1997, but travels to Camas each year to participate in Camas Days. This year, he presented the first place trophy to the Bathtub Bandits, who are no strangers to victory in this event. According to members of their team, they have won 7 out of their 11 years competing.

The Camas Days festival closed on Saturday night with a steak feed that offered participants the opportunity to grill their own steak. At $15 per person, the event brought Camas residents together over their cooking practices, some sharing their kitchen secrets with their newfound friends.

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