The beloved community festival saw significant changes to its usual format this year.
Michael McCormic, Jr.
For Clark County Today
BATTLE GROUND — For many residents in central and north Clark County, the Battle Ground Harvest Days is one of the most memorable weekends of the year. While 2018 was no exception, festival-goers noticed some drastic differences from previous years, as well as some community favorite events that have been around for years.
Kicking off the two-day long festival was the 7th Annual Harvest Nights Cruise In on July 20. An event that aims to give spectators a look at some of the greatest cars in history, not a single vehicle in the cruise was newer than 1988, per the event’s rules. Also, a vehicle cap of 400 entries is placed on the event, so participants began signing up their hot rods long before the procession began at 6:30 p.m.
As live music echoed from the beer garden, gearheads, mechanics, classic-car enthusiasts, and families alike lined old town Battle Ground along Main St. to catch a glimpse of the cars, trucks, and even busses making their way down the cruise route. Many of the participants chose to take part in the burn out pit, where spectators could watch a few hundred horsepower do what it does best: burn rubber.
The Harvest Nights Cruise In is sponsored by area businesses including Dan’s Tractor, Guild Mortgage, and O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, and all proceeds from the event go to supporting charities in North County.
Early the following morning, on July 21, Harvest Days festivities continued with Fire District 3’s annual pancake breakfast. For the third year in a row, area residents were treated to a breakfast fit for a firefighter.
Barbara Widlund, Fire District 3’s assistant fire chief, explains the purpose of the event, stating, “We do it to raise money for usually a family or someone recommends someone who needs help. We had two children this year who were burn victims, so we were raising money for them.”
Through the breakfast event, the firefighters were able to engage with over 300 area residents who showed up at the Battle Ground Fire Station to eat good food for a good cause.
A few hours later, at 10:00 a.m., the Harvest Days Parade began, showcasing floats from across the county. Often considered to be a buffer-zone between urban Vancouver and rural North County, spectators in the parade saw nearly every community in the are represented in some form or fashion, with floats ranging from equestrian clubs, businesses, political campaigns, military veteran organizations, and charities.
While the sights and sounds of a carnival were abundant at Harvest Days, there were no shouts coming from amusement park rides, nor were the voices of carnival game workers heard yelling “Step right up and win a prize.” Instead of the weekend-long carnival, complete with rides, carnival games, and a sea of vendors booths, as has been standard in past years at Harvest Days, event organizers opted for a smaller, more family-oriented festival.
For one day only, the southeast lawn of Battle Ground High School became the carnival grounds, and canopy tents housed homemade carnival games, put on by area businesses, churches, and volunteers. A few bounce house inflatables, handmade arts and crafts vendors, food carts, and a firehose demonstration by Fire District 3 tied the whole carnival feel together.
While many of the games provided by professional amusement companies are often unfairly designed for participants, there were no hidden tricks at Harvest Days this year; the purpose in opting for the homegrown approach to entertainment was to give Harvest Days a more small town feel, while also encouraging area families to spend time together.
Amy Williams, a Battle Ground native and lifelong Harvest Days attendee, has been bringing her sons to the community festival for years. In a true testament to the claim that Harvest Days has something for everybody, Williams and her sons each had different answers when asked about their favorite thing at Harvest Days.
Caleb Williams says his favorite thing was “the food,” while his older brother, Daniel, said his was the parade.
However, for Amy Williams, the greatest thing about Harvest Days wasn’t the food, the parade, or even the obstacle course bounce house. Instead, Williams says, “I like seeing all the community come out.”
Harvest Days wrapped up on the evening of July 21, a day shorter than usual, bringing to a close a community festival that turned out much different than it has in years prior. Though not like the festival to which the Battle Ground community has grown accustomed, area families nonetheless braved the 90 degree weather to get out and connect with neighbors and old friends, which, by any community’s standards, is the sign of a successful event.