The 2017 Festival of America happened last weekend, but here’s a tip: Locals enjoy a great fireworks show of their own making off the top of North Dam, tonight, July 4. It’s an annual event, kinda crazy but well policed and permitted.
North Dam is what holds up the north end of Banks Lake, and a pretty safe place to hold fireworks. It’s the only place in the city of Grand Coulee where they are allowed, so local people flock to it. Travelers are welcome too, but bring your own chairs and refreshments. This is strictly non-commercial, no vendors selling hot dogs.
To get there, just head south on highway 155 at the junction with 174, where the 76 station is in Grand Coulee, and you’re looking at North Dam.
This year’s Festival of America is coming Friday and Saturday, June 30 and July 1.
This year’s July 4 Independence Day holiday falls on Tuesday. Chamber of Commerce officials don’t think their annual festival would get good attendance if it were held on a Tuesday, as the work week is split in two.
But there are some real treats to come on the two new dates, the Friday and Saturday just before July 4:
The fireworks over the dam will fire off just after the Laser Light Show Saturday evening, about 10:30 p.m.
In the park below the Visitor Center at Grand Coulee Dam, there’s a full set of music performances both evenings.
Friday, June 30, tenor Joseph Saachi and mezzo-soprano Marija Bonsnar, with Michael Plagerman at the keyboard, will perform from 5 to 6:30 p.m., with the Spokane River Band performing from 7:45 to 9:45.
On Saturday, the 3D Band will kick off the music program, from 4:45 to 6:45, with Jesse Quandt performing from 7:45 to 9:45.
The Beer Garden returns to the Melody Restaurant site.
The park below the Visitor Center will be packed with arts and craft vendors and food stalls.
Remember to mark your calendar for the change of dates.
Geologist Bruce Bjornstad came to Dry Falls-Sun Lakes State Park to give a guided tour of the Caribou Trail to a dog and about 10 human hikers both local, from the Seattle area, and as far away as New England last Saturday.
The approximately 90-minute guided hike started with Bjornstad showing maps of the area depicting what things were like during the Missoula Floods. He showed how a large ice dam used to be where the Grand Coulee Dam is now, and how that had diverted the Columbia River through the Grand Coulee, past Steamboat Rock, and so on. When the ice dam melted, the Columbia took on its current course.
Bjornstad, a licensed geologist/hydrogeologist who used to work for Hanford nuclear production complex in the Tri-Cities area, explained the timescale of the coulees being carved, explaining what a unique feature they are on the planet Earth, the closest thing similar being the landscapes of the planet Mars.
Hiking to huge potholes resembling craters above Deep Lake, Bjornstad explained that they were formed by whirlpools or eddies in the waters that had flooded the region, and simply dug the rocks out of the ground and sent them flying with the sheer force of the current.
“These are some of the best potholes in the world,” Bjornstad said. “There’s dozens of them up there. A lot of times you won’t see them until you’re right up next to them within a few feet when all of the sudden the ground will disappear. They can be hundreds of feet deep and hundreds of feet wide.”
Throughout the hike, Bjornstad was able to answer questions and explain geological features of the region.
A video series Bjornstad produces called Floodscapes is available to view on Youtube. The videos show stunning aerial footage shot with a drone of landscapes shaped by the Missoula Floods, including the Deep Lake Potholes.
Great events will be happening in the Grand Coulee Dam area this weekend: Koulee Kids Fest, a fireworks show, bull riding, and astronomy.
The annual Koulee Kids Fest runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on this Saturday, June 17. The free event offers kids the opportunity to play mini golf, ride pedal boats, and much much more. Click HERE for more info.
Fireworks will be launched from North Dam in Grand Coulee on Saturday night, June 17, from around 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. Coulee Playland is offering free boat launches for those wanting to watch from the waters of Banks Lake. North Dam Park and Banks Lake Park, and all surrounding areas are good places to see the event. Click HERE for more info.
The Cleatis Lacy Memorial Bull Riding event will take place on Friday, June 16 at the Ridge Rider Rodeo Grounds in Grand Coulee starting at 7 p.m. The event will also include a wild horse race. Click HERE for more info.
The National Park Service will host a free public astronomy presentation at Crescent Bay on Friday, June 16, from 9-11:30 P.M.