Music, food and fireworks.
Sounds like Festival of America time in the coulee, when patriots can celebrate America Friday and Saturday at the park below the Visitor Center, with a guide to the action inside this issue.
The Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce, the organizer of the event, has put together live music, kids activities, a big show in the park, fireworks and more to entertain local residents as well as the thousands of visitors who crowd the park and surrounding areas each year.
Listen to the music of MacDaddy, Tuxedo Junction and the Olson Bros. bands.
Fifty vendors will provide food and product in the park.
An “Inflatable Village,” a romp particularly for the kids, will help to make the time clearly a family time.
New this year is the chamber’s Beer Garden, located on town shop property facing Columbia Avenue, where adults can go for a beverage break and a retreat from the crowd.
All in all, a great experience filled with possibilities for everyone.
And don’t forget the Laser Light Show, kicking off just before the fireworks over Grand Coulee Dam.
All the fun is explained in the special Festival of America section with this week’s Star newspaper.
And by the way, when you see a chamber of commerce member, say “thanks” for the creativity and hard work it takes to put on the festival.
Here’s our online edition of our printed special section:
The laser light show that explains the history of the area and the dam shows nightly through the season. It’s the largest outdoor show in North America and is something to see, newly updated in 2014.
What time does the laser light show begin?
The laser show is held nightly at Grand Coulee Dam as follows for 2015:
May 23 to July 31 at 10:00 p.m.
Aug. 1 to Aug. 31 at 9:30 p.m.
Sept. 1 to Sept. 30 at 8:30 p.m.
The show is about 28 minutes in length. There is no admission fee. Call 509-633-9265 for more information.
How long is the laser show?
The laser light show lasts approximately 28 minutes, during which time colorful images created by the lasers move back and forth across the huge surface of the dam.
Where can I view the show?
The best locations are the seating area at the Visitor Center and from the park below the Visitor Center. These areas provide an outdoor sound system.
The town of Coulee Dam has a park — terraced and grassy for viewing the laser show — adjacent to the east end of the Columbia River bridge.
Other viewing spots: from Douglas Park in Coulee Dam; from Crown Point atop the granite cliffs above Lake Rufus Woods, access from SR174 towards Bridgeport.
The USBR broadcasts the audio portion of the laser light show nightly at 90.1 FM.
What is a laser?
Lasers are intense beams of light commonly used in medicine and science, but they’ve also found a niche as a high-tech, fast-moving form of entertainment. They are controlled by computers which, at Grand Coulee Dam, are in the Visitor Center.
Although a single dot of light, lasers can trace an image so rapidly it appears as a solid figure to the human eye.
The term laser is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It is so commonly used now that the tradition of using capital letters for an acronym has been dropped.
How are the lasers used at Grand Coulee Dam?
As one of the largest entertainment laser projection systems in the world, and certainly the largest outdoor laser show in North America, the lasers at Grand Coulee Dam tell the story of the Columbia River and how its power was harnessed to provide multiple benefits to mankind, including electrical power, irrigation for farming and exciting recreational opportunities. As a result of the open process of scripting the show new in 2014, viewers will also understand the costs of building the dam — cost to wildlife, and to native peoples whose way of life was dependent on that wildlife, in particular, the salmon that no longer could continue upstream to spawn.
How much did the lasers cost?
With the original equipment in use since 1989, the Bureau of Reclamation commissioned a new show and new equipment. The equipment began operation in May of 2013, but projecting the new show began in May, 2014. Lumalaser, of Oregon, bid the project at $1.6 million.
How big are the laser images?
Pictures are beamed at the awesome height of nearly 300 feet.
How far do the lasers project?
The laser lights are beamed between 2,000 and 4,000 feet to the surface of the dam.
It may not be a patriotic duty, but it certainly is a patriotic privilege to attend the Festival of America this Friday and Saturday, July 4-5, 2014, at the park below the Visitor Center.
For the complete schedule, see The Star’s Festival of America special section below. Or pick one up at any store or the Chamber of Commerce’s booth in the park.
There’s a little bit of everything for everyone and a whole lot of fun for the lot, in the two-day celebration.
The festival offers free music, food, a craft fair, a new laser light show and on Friday night, fireworks over Grand Coulee Dam.
The craft and food fair kicks off each day from 11 a.m. and continues to 9:45 p.m.
Free, live music on both days starting at 5 p.m. and going until 9:30 p.m.
Fireworks will light up the sky over Grand Coulee Dam at 10:30 on July 4.
There’s so much happening in the Grand Coulee Dam Area this Memorial Day weekend, it’s hard to know where to start.
Isle of Flags
But rightfully, that has to be an annual service called the Isle of Flags. It’s a tribute to local veterans who’ve passed on, but anybody from anywhere would find this simple, 40-minute ceremony overlooking Lake Roosevelt to be inspiring. More than 500 U.S. flags will fly in tribute at Spring Canyon Cemetery, along with those about to be dedicated.
The Isle of Flags ceremony starts at 11 a.m. Monday.
Cleatis Lacy Memorial Bull Riding and Wild Horse Race
Saturday, May 24 at 4 p.m. at the site of the best rodeo in the state, cheers will echo off the the coulee wall as cowboys take on the toughest 8 seconds in all of sports, riding bulls who know how to throw them like rag dolls. This event will also feature a wild horse race in which teams of three try to harness, saddle and ride through barrels horse so spirited they refuse to be “broke” in the old cowboy sense of the word. Admission is $10, or $8 for students. Kids under 10 get in free. And if you don’t have your kids with you, feel free to watch from the Ridge Riders’ whiskey and beer garden.
Largest laser show in North America debuts Saturday at 10 p.m.
On Saturday night at 10 p.m., the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will debut its new laser light show on the face of Grand Coulee Dam. At more than a mile wide and as high as the Washington Monument, it’s the largest laser light show in North America. And it’s free.
This new show features all-new content on the history of the Columbia River, its people, the dam and its effects on the region and nation. The production and equipment to show it cost $1.6 million and replaces the original show that ran for 25 years.
I’ve seen some preview clips on the Internet, but I’m not going to post them here. Those do the show a disservice, because you cannot get the same effect reducing a mile-wide spectacle to a tiny screen. Just come and see it. The best place to watch it is at the Visitor Center at the dam or in the park just below the VC. But below is photo of people watching the show that ran for 25 years.