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Festival of the River

Stillaguamish Tribe's annual festival features Native culture, environmental education and music


August 16, 2017 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

Bash the Trash band member Erika Kapin, right, and Oliver Baker, left, blow on trumpets made out of recycled materials at the 28th annual Festival of the River on Aug. 12.

The Stillaguamish Tribe's Festival of the River returned to the Arlington area, bringing music, Native culture and environmental education to the public on Aug. 12 and 13.

The local tribe presents the festival each year to educate the public about the Stillaguamish watershed and about their culture, as well as to provide free concerts, kids activities, crafts and other activities.

River Meadows Park, near Arlington Heights and the south fork of the Stillaguamish River, is the site of the festival.

Free kids crafts and activities were available throughout the festival.

"It's great so far. This is my first year here," said parent Kitara Reese. "It's really cool and it's got so much to see. I really like the bouncy houses and the free things for kids to do."

This year's big concerts were country artist LeAnn Rimes and blues musician Jonny Lang, but numerous local bands, Native flute players and Native storytellers also took to the stages of the festival.

Nicole Patterson said she came to the Festival of the River to listen to the music.

"We drove down here just for the concert at five o'clock, but now all this other stuff is really cool, too," she said.

She enjoyed the environmental activities that her own kids could take part in.

"There's not enough of this, so it's good there's stuff like this festival to teach them things," she said. "Those are resources that we shouldn't waste."

The festival began 28 years ago with the mission of promoting the Stillaguamish River and the watershed around it.

"This is to help educate the community around us and explain what the watershed means and how we can help keep it as good as survives," said Trisha Pecor, Stillaguamish Tribal council member.

She said the wildlife and nature connected to the river is important to everyone.

"Everything needs to survive because everything is leaning on each other, so it's important that we look after the watershed," said Pecor.

Pecor said her favorite aspect of the festival was promoting environmental awareness.

"I like the education part about the salmon recovery and how it all goes together and what that means," she said.

The Stillaguamish Tribe also shares their culture with the Arlington community through the festival, with Native storytellers and a Pow Wow that brings many local tribes to the area .

Christopher Andersson

Jan Patterson, left, and Ana Patterson play a fishing game to learn about salmon at the 28th annual Festival of the River on Aug. 12.

This year's Pow Wow featured a new stage to handle the growth of the event. Instead of tents a circular arena was built for the Pow Wow, which is more in line with traditional Pow Wows.

"It helps people understand a little bit more about the Native community," said Pecor.

The tribal and environmental aspect help make the festival unique. "It helps get people's attention," said Pecor.

She said that "people are drawn to the festival every year," and start asking about it before it starts.

"They know what to expect and they obviously like the whole picture," she said.

The festival usually serves as a way to get everyone together as well. "It's a community get together," she said.

More information about the Stillaguamish Tribe's annual festival is available at


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