DALLAS -- Summerfest is fast approaching and Dallas is gearing up for the biggest birthday party it has ever seen.
The theme of the city's annual summer festival is "Happy Birthday, Oregon" in honor of the state's sesquicentennial celebration.
While the four-day festival July 23-26 will feature many of its traditional events such, as the parade, car show and Art in the Park, it will also host several new surprises.
Festival attendees will be able to tour Dallas by air for the first time, Chelsea Pope, the executive director of the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce, said. Following the parade on Saturday, July 25, helicopter rides will be offered for $30 a person. The 10-minute ride will fly passengers around the city for a bird's-eye view.
"(The helicopter's) pretty plush and cozy," Pope said. "Riding in a helicopter is not like flying (in a plane). It's so smooth."
The helicopter can accommodate three passengers and will take off from the parking lot at The Academy Building off Main Street.
This year the festival will also feature rubber duck races along Rickreall Creek coordinated by the Lions Club. Community members can purchase rubber ducks to enter in the race at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 23. Ducks will be dropped off the Levens Street Bridge into the creek and race to the waiting dignitaries catching them at the Main Street Bridge, Pope said.
The fastest duck will win $100 cash and the money raised will benefit the Dallas High School Scholarship Program.
An extra fun run will supplement the annual Kids Fun Run. The new run will be a 5K run around the city at the same time as the kids run before the parade on Saturday. Registration for both runs begins at 9 a.m. at Dallas TV and Radio Shack.
Vendors will be set up on the Polk County Courthouse lawn July 23-25 and will offer lots of food choices as well as retail goods, Pope said.
There will also be more live entertainment this year, including the Ty Curtis Band, DallasChurch Band, miXer, Cherry City Rhythm Rockers, Gusto Brothers and the Ben Rice Band.
And to prepare for the big birthday parade, a special booth will be set up among the vendors so spectators can purchase a birthday hat and decorate it. Hats and "bling" will be available for $1.
Once the hat is acquired and decorated, throw it on for the parade at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 25.
"We've heard of people who are going to decorate (parade entries) like a birthday party or what a float would have looked like 150 years ago," Pope said.
Sesqi the Oregon Sasquatch will serve as parade grand marshal, and there will be appearances by Ronald McDonald, local pageant princesses and the Oregon State Fair giant tomato. The parade route will return to its traditional loop down Jefferson and Main streets and end around 12:30 p.m. -- just in time for the Gusto Brothers to keep the party rocking with live music.
And for the second year in a row, teens will have their own event. Saturday night from 7 to 9 in the Bank of America Parking Lot, teens with ID can attend the Teen Dance for $5. The chamber is partnering with After Darc to throw a bash that pays homage to the neon-colored years of the 1980s.
Summerfest concludes Sunday, July 26, at Dallas City Park. The day includes the Rotary Club's Breakfast in the Park from 7 to 11 a.m., the Tom Newton Car Show from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Art in the Park from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and tours of the Delbert Hunter Arboretum, also from 8 to 4.
Pope said she was worried about the amount of funding they would be able to raise for this year's festival through sponsors, but the community really pulled through.
"The way the community stepped up and sponsored ... was inspiring," Pope said. "We made our budget and were able to keep everything."