Local communities celebrate cultures, arts and heritage


Several small towns, cities, and unincorporated centers lie within the Nisqually Watershed, including Ashford, Eatonville, McKenna, Yelm, Roy and the Nisqually Reservation. Each of these communities has its own identity, from Ashford at the gates of Mount Rainier, to the Nisqually Tribe along the banks of the Nisqually, or Yelm as the pride of the prairie.

An important component of the strength of any community is the presence of opportunities to promote these identities through celebrations of local cultures, arts, and heritages. With summer just around the corner, many communities are gearing up for numerous celebrations including farmers markets, festivals, and parades. In this week’s blog post, the NRC is happy to provide a glimpse at a few of the exciting events in the next few months!

Farmer’s Markets, Community Gardens, and Food Co-ops:

The Yelm Farmer’s Market is open on Sundays from 10-3, between May 22 and October 16. The market is held at Nisqually Springs Farm and welcomes SNAP benefits, making healthy and local foods accessible to all. If Sundays don’t work for you, Yelm is also home to the Yelm Food Co-op, which is open daily year round.

Eatonville is home to a community garden as well as the Mountain Community Co-op. Beginning on May 7, 2016, the Co-op will be open Monday-Saturday, and features locally produced foods. The Co-op also offers a produce share, which can be picked up on Saturdays, or delivered to Graham or Ashford. For folks who enjoy playing in the dirt, the Mountain Community Garden offers raised beds available for lease each year. The location of the garden will change at the end of this year, but the community remains committed to providing this service!

IMG_7167The Nisqually Tribe maintains a large community garden, which produces healthy and organic food that is shared with the Nisqually community. Each week, the garden staff bring food to Nisqually Elders and Head Start–along with many other programs–to ensure that local and traditional foods can be enjoyed by all. The garden staff also offer classes so that tribal members can understand uses of different plants. Additionally, the Nisqually Tribe operates She-Nah-Num Seafood, a store that provides wild, tribally caught fish and shellfish.

Other farmer’s markets, community gardens, and food co-ops in the area include the Olympia Farmer’s Market (open year round!) and Olympia Food Co-op (2 locations!).

Festivals and Community Celebrations:

The 10th Annual Rainier Independent Film Festival will be held May 13-15, 2016 in Ashford. This festival highlights alternative films, ranging from documentaries to Sci-Fi thrillers.

The City of Yelm will host the annual Prairie Days Parade on June 23, 2016 from 7-8:30 pm. The family-friendly event features a parade and carnival at Yelm City Park.

This year, the Nisqually Tribe will host Canoe Journey, held July 30-August 6, 2016. Celebrations will be in Olympia as well as at the Tribe’s Reservation. Canoe Journey is a celebration of tribal heritage and draws thousands of visitors from around the globe. This year, pullers will travel throughout the Salish Sea, stopping at communities along the way, before landing at Swantown Marina in Olympia on July 30.

IMG_0535The Eatonville Arts Festival draws artists from around the nation for a weekend full of family-friendly fun. The festival will be August 5-7, 2016 and features a beer garden, live auction, and food booths.

The NRC, Nisqually Tribe, and multiple partners are excited to host the Nisqually Watershed Festival and Eatonville Salmon Fest again this year. The Nisqually Watershed Festival will be on Saturday, September 24, 2016 at the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. This event features live music, hands-on activities and guided tours for the whole family. The Eatonville Salmon Fest, held at Millpond Park, will be on October 15, 2016. The festival celebrates the partnership between the Town of Eatonville and the Nisqually Tribe, as well as the return of spawning salmon in the Mashel River.

About the Nisqually Watershed Stewardship Plan

The Nisqually River Council (NRC) is a non-regulatory education and advocacy organization that works to promote sustainability in the Nisqually Watershed. The NRC was formed in 1987 and has 24 active members, including a robust Citizens Advisory Committee. The NRC is guided by the Nisqually Watershed Stewardship Plan (NWSP) which provides a blueprint towards ecological, economic and social sustainability. The NWSP has 11 indicators that direct the actions of the NRC and associated non-profits. As a part of our 2016 blog feed, we will highlight each of the 11 indicators during the first week of each month. We hope you’ll read along and learn more about the Nisqually Watershed!

This month’s topic is Culture & Arts. We work to promote local communities, identities, cultures, arts, and heritage. We envision that:

  1. Farmers markets, co-ops, and alternative economies exist throughout the watershed
  2. Natural and built heritage facilities are promoted
  3. A vibrant artisan community exists in the watershed
  4. Celebrations of watershed events occur throughout the watershed
  5. Community members are informed, engaged, involved, and interconnected with a sense of local identity