Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Bellevue keeps Labor Day rocking

Attendance soars for parade and bluegrass festival

Express Staff Writer

Steve Mills and his grandson Dylan Osburn, age 3, delight the crowds lining Main Street during Bellevue?s annual Labor Day celebration. Mills and his 1961 John Deere tractor have been frequent entrants in the parade. Photo by Willy Cook

Leave it up to the residents of the Wood River Valley to show they won't let a 46,000-acre fire disrupt their ability to have a good time, as attendance at Bellevue's Labor Day celebration soared like the music coming from Memorial Park.

"I would say it doubled from last year," Kim Stocking said of the crowd that flooded to the park after the annual parade to eat and listen to live music.

Stocking, who is on Bellevue Chamber of Commerce's parade committee, which organized the event, estimated that more than 1,000 people from all over the county were there to take part in the festivities.

"I'm so appreciative of the entire valley for taking time out of their day to come down and celebrate with us," Stocking said during a recent interview. "We had so much support from chamber members and residents to make sure things went smoothly."

Stocking said that while a number of vendors cancelled because they thought Bellevue would also be affected by the Castle Rock Fire, the increase in spectators was most likely due to the absence of Ketchum's annual Wagon Days parade.

"The place was way more packed than I've ever seen," said Hailey resident Sarah Benson, whose children, Morgan and Zach, were among the many dancing up a storm in the park. "They thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the School of Rock. Well, them and all the candy."

Bellevue Councilman Chris Koch said throwing out candy from a fire truck during the parade was a personal highlight of the weekend along with getting in the dunk tank.

"It was a great time, both Sunday and Monday," Koch said.

Sunday featured the second annual Bluegrass Music Festival, which was also well attended.

"It was a very cool event in the park," said John Stevens, who used in-line skates to scoot down from Hailey with fellow Sun Valley Suns veteran Vilnis Nikolaisons and his son, Jake. "There was a steady flow of people in and out the whole day and overall was very mellow without having the entire town heading there at once after the parade."

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