North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Festival of the River focuses on culture, environment


Christopher Andersson

photo BY CHRISTOPHER ANDERSSON Rainer Luhrs, from the Stillaguamish Tribe's Natural Resources Department, talks with Catherine Indrebo, center, and Lily Indrebo about how sediment affects rivers during the Festival of the River on Aug. 13.

Music, powwows, the environment and Native American culture were celebrated at the 27th annual Festival of the River on Aug. 13 and 14.

The Stillaguamish Tribe puts on the event as a way to share their culture and information about the local Stillaguamish watershed.

"We want to be a part of the community and this is something we do every year that brings people together," said Ted Wright, executive director of the Stillaguamish Tribe.

"People have a good time, and that's something that we feel is important," he said.

Wright said there's lots of things for people to come do at the festival every year.

"The music's great, it's free and there's lots of stuff to do," he said.

Musical acts including Aaron Neville and Chase Rice played on the stage during the weekend, along with other local bands and Native American musicians.

Along with numerous food vendors, a salmon bake is also provided. "What's better than grilled salmon?" said Wright.

"I think mostly they come for the music, but there's a lot of things to do. Some people come for the food and some people come for the powwow," he said.

The Festival of the River began with a grant that was given to the Stillaguamish Tribe to help educate locals about the Stillaguamish River.

From that beginning, the Tribe has brought the festival back every year and retained part of its core mission to educate about the local river and the modern environmental issues it's facing.

"We have an opportunity to talk about the watershed and our part in preserving it. It's a tribal value and part of the mission of the Tribe," said Wright.

Local Kelly Indrebo said that her kids were having a blast at the festival.

"I love it. I wish I had known about it in years past," she said. "It's educational and it's fun, and it's a beautiful location."

Christopher Andersson

Native American dancers take part in the powwow at the Festival of the River on Aug. 13.

Rainer Luhrs, who works with the Stillaguamish Tribe's Natural Resources Department, said he enjoyed interacting with the kids and helping them learn about the river.

"This is actually my first festival, but it's been really fun," he said. "It's fun to have kids come here and play with the sediment tables and you're able to explain semi-difficult scientific concepts in really easy ways because they can play with the sand and see it in real time," he said.

This year's festival also featured an expanded powwow tent and tribes from across the U.S. came to dance as part of the Stillaguamish Tribe's festival.

"The powwow is growing in importance and people are beginning to realize that's sort of the core of what goes on here," said Wright.

More information about the Festival of the River is available at


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