Park Happenings: Never just a day in the park

<I>JON SCHMIDT photo</I><BR>On July 14, Denise Drake and Dave Quinton played to a crowd of over 100 people for the third performance of the Waikiki Beach Concert Series at Cape Disappointment State Park.

A summer day in the park can mean many different things depending on who you ask. Some folk's definition of a perfect park experience includes a picnic and a nap in the shade. Many kids would prefer to hang out on the beach, running in the waves and building sandcastles or driftwood forts. Others of us would like to "get into the woods" and take a hike away from everyone else in order to surround ourselves with big trees and hidden birds. Whether you feel like visiting a museum, taking in a concert or watching slides at a campfire program, the Long Beach Area State Parks are in full gear with something for everyone to take pleasure in.

Cape Disappointment State Park features a brand new amphitheater which is being used for nightly campfire programs throughout the summer. The Benson Beach Amphitheater is located within the main beachfront campground. The amphitheater is so new that permanent signage has yet to be put in the ground. Follow the laminated arrows stapled on the permanent signs north and west from the Waikiki Beach day use area. The path lights will guide you to the new seating, stage and screen where interpretive specialists will be presenting programs at 8:30 p.m. each night this week. Program topics range from Lewis and Clark to shipwrecks, lighthouses, and jetties. These evening slideshows are all free and open to the public. Call the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at 642-3029 for a more detailed program schedule.

Fort Columbia Interpretive Center will be open Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The present day interpretive center is the former fort's main barracks, used for housing the troops stationed there during both world wars. This building and its exhibits have been closed for several years due to construction. Much of the needed work has been completed and we are excited to be able to open this facility to the public once again. Admission is by donation.

The fourth performance of the Waikiki Beach Concert Series will be held this Saturday at Cape Disappointment State Park. Circled By Hounds, an energetic Celtic trio from Portland, Ore., will be playing a free concert starting at 2 p.m. The band Circled By Hounds features Kathryn Claire on fiddle, guitar and vocals; Matthew Hayward-McDonald on guitar and vocals, and Vash on percussion and vocals. They describe themselves on their Web site (circledbyhounds.com) as a "classic traditional Irish trio." Dinah Urell, editor of "The Hipfish," a monthly magazine about local events and culture, described the band this way, "Their physical/musical presence transforms public space into spirited celebration." Doesn't that just make you want to go down to the beach right this instant, wait with anticipation for the band to start so you can spiritually celebrate?

Seriously, this is a band that I have been waiting a long time to see and hear. I hope you'll join me at the park this Saturday; we can enjoy some great music, then maybe make a fort down on the beach, have a picnic and then close the evening down with a campfire program amongst the shore pines.

Big thanks go to our sponsors that help make special events happen in our local Washington State Parks. The Waikiki Beach Concert Series wouldn't be possible if it weren't for the Friends of the Columbia River Gateway, Washington State Parks Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Washington State Arts Commission.

Jon Schmidt is an Interpretive Specialist at Cape Disappointment State Park. To contact him, call the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at 642-3029 or e-mail lcic@parks.wa.gov.

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