Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
Sixty four years ago a small farming community in the Lower Yakima Valley wanted to plan an annual event that would bring together local families and cast away winter. At first the sponsoring founders struggled with naming the festival and finding volunteers to get things started. Getting to the Cherry Festival was easier than expected as community boosters rallied around the beautiful spring cherry blossoms dotting Cherry Hill, a long-established local landmark. Volunteers came forward when the Lion’s Club stepped up to organize the event (which they still do today).
There are only a couple things that have changed since that first event, the name shortened to become The Granger Cherry Festival and folks come from all over Washington state to enjoy the fun and the live entertainment provided at Hisey Park’s amphitheater. According to Valde Valenzuela, Lion’s Club treasurer and long time event coordinator, “Through the years, the festival has created unity within our community while having fun at the same time. It also serves as the primary fundraiser for the Lion’s Club.”
The festival, held on the last weekend in April, begins at noon on Friday with carnival rides and food and craft venders. Saturday morning features the town’s parade at 11:00 a.m., complete with the recently crowned Miss Granger and Little Miss Granger and their courts. Following the parade, live bands play at the amphitheater, and various dance troupes and performers enjoy the community stage at Hisey Park. The festival is capped off by the popular fishing derby beginning at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday. Prizes are awarded to the three largest fish caught. There are many more activities offered throughout the weekend, something for everyone. Granger is still a small farming community but it has done amazing things over the years.
The city is very proud of their heritage and their pride clearly shows as you drive through town.