Cornucopia Days: Kent's biggest festival goes off without a hitch

Even the weather seemed to cooperate this past weekend during the 38th annual Kent Cornucopia Days, blanketing the region with sunshine and warm temperatures through most of the festival and waiting all day Sunday before dousing the area with a little of the wet stuff. “The rain held off until closing time,” volunteer event director Bill Westcott said Monday. “Almost to the minute.”

Tye Groshong and sisters Trae and Shanna

Tye Groshong and sisters Trae and Shanna

Even the weather seemed to cooperate this past weekend during the 38th annual Kent Cornucopia Days, blanketing the region with sunshine and warm temperatures through most of the festival and waiting all day Sunday before dousing the area with a little of the wet stuff.

“The rain held off until closing time,” volunteer event director Bill Westcott said Monday. “Almost to the minute.”

Thousands of people descended on downtown Kent over the three days of the festival, visiting the more than 600 booths spread out across the downtown core and enjoying South King County’s largest family festival.

“Overall it went very, very well,” Westcott said.

According to Westcott, this year’s event started with a bang, with what appeared to be increased attendance on Friday.

“We had more people on Friday during the day than we normally do,” he said adding that while the increase in attendance usually comes in the later evening hours, “that uptick came at 12 noon.”

Decent attendance continued through the weekend, even on Sunday when clouds threatened to put a damper on the festival. According to Westcott, several of the vendors told him Sunday was actually their best day, making more sales than on Saturday.

“Sunday, despite the weather, everyone was very happy and the crowds were good,” he said.

Westcott also said several people told him this year’s event, especially the carnival, seemed safer than in previous years, due mainly to an increased police presence designed to tamp down out-of-town teens looking to potentially cause trouble.

“It just made a more inviting environment and the families came back in droves,” he said. “It was just the presence (the police) provided.”

This year’s event also featured the return of the festival’s 5K fun run, which was canceled last year due to construction along the route.

According to Kent Cultural Programs Coordinator Mark Hendrickson, 540 runners turned out for the event, including more than 150 walk-ups who registered to run on the day of the race.

According to Hendrickson, the overall male winner this year was 17-year-old Casey Campbell, who finished the course in 16 minutes, 45 seconds. Anita Behrbaum, 44, finished first in the women’s division with a time of 20:42.

According to Hendrickson, this year’s race also featured at least two runners in their 80s and a “significant representation” from Weight Watchers.

“It’s a really fun, fun event,” he said, thanking Iron Mountain for the use of their parking lot during the race.

On the other side of town, the competition on the water was just as tight at the annual dragon boat races, hosted by the Kent Dragon Boat Association.

Racers from Portland, Ore., dominated the day finishing first in seven of the eight categories, with two teams taking home trophies in multiple categories.

The Wasabi Kraken team won both the Junior division (ages 14-18) and the Mixed B division, with times of 2:07.43 and 2:06.90, respectively.

“They’re a top team,” said Patty Sikora, Director of the Kent Lions Dragon Boat Races.

The Wasabi Power team also went home to Portland with first-place finishes in Women’s senior (ages 45 and older) division and the Women’s A division with times of 2:19.34 and 2:06.64, respectively.

In the Mixed Senior division, the winner was Wasabi Grandmasters with a time of 2:07.80, while Survivor Sake of Seattle took the Women’s Cancer Survivors division with a time of 2:28.81.

Riptide, of Portland, finished top in the Women’s B division with a time of 2:16.57 while Wasabi Burn of Portland posted the fastest time of the day, finishing in 1:59.06 to win the Mixed A division.

Local teams and event hosts the Dragin’ Tails failed to make the finals in their division, finishing with a best time of 2:16.95 while the Ladies of the Lake, a local women’s team, posted times of 2:30.48 in the Women’s B division and a 2:28.92 in the Women’s Senior division.

“The local teams, Kent especially, are improving every year,” Sikora said.

Sunday saw the annual parade through downtown, with Old Timer King and Queen Pete and Pat Curran presiding.

This year, the Grand Trophy was awarded to the Super Steppers and Little Steppers while the President’ Award went to Association De Charros/Azteca/Los Margaritas Group.

For floats, the Queens Award (and the Crowd Pleaser) went to the Marysville Strawberry Festival, while the Princess Award was given to West Seattle HiYu and the Community Theme was won by Port Orchard Fathoms O Fun.

The Daffodil float won awards for Best Floral and Best Animation and Des Moines took the Friendship Award while KUBE and Miss Cinderella Scholarship won Spirit Awards.

In the band competition, Seattle All City took first while Northside Drum received the Spirit Award. In the Junior Drill category, first place went to the Little Steppers while Mahogany took home the spirit award.

In the Senior Drill category, the Super Steppers won first place while the highlanders got the spirit award.

Kent Elementary Stomp and Dance won the Junior Dance competition with Allegro getting the spirit award while Northwest Cheer and Dance Academy won the Senior Dance division with West Coast Country Heat taking home the spirit award.

In the marching competitions, Emerald City Jewels won the Junior Marching division and VFW won the Senior Marching, with American College Martial Arts and Seattle Thunderbirds taking home the spirit awards.

The Association De Charros won the Equestrian prize and Puget Sound Minis won the Motor division with the Kent Fire Department earning the spirit award.

And finally, in the novelty division, Fast Pup Dog Training came in first with the Seafair Pirates taking home the spirit award.

In all, Westcott called this year’s Cornucopia Days event a success and said plans would begin immediately on next year’s festival.

“It does keep growing,” he said. “We have a good city, a good volunteer base and whatever we’re doing we’re doing right because people keep coming.”

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