Summer fun heats up in Polk County

While many of us are still awaiting some consistent springlike weather in the Willamette Valley, the calendar claims it is too late for that and says summer has arrived in Polk County.

In fact, Tuesday, June 21, marked the first day of summer -- and what a summer 2011 will be in our region.

Not that anyone needs an excuse to enjoy summer, but Polk County's communities are gearing up for the season in a big way.

Summer activities get cooking today (Wednesday, June 22), when Western Oregon University kicks off its Summer Heatwave Concert Series on the plaza outside the Werner University Center. Every Wednesday at noon through July 27, there will be free concerts open to the public. Food and beverages will be available for purchase to make your lunchtime complete.

Independence Days in Independence and the Monmouth Fourth of July Festival in Monmouth run July 1-4. The four-day, two-community celebration includes a parade, live music, food and beverages, vendors of all types, and, of course, fireworks at Riverview Park and Amphitheater.

And Falls City has its own Fourth of July fun -- on July 3 -- with a parade, vendors and food booths, and a fireworks display at Upper Park.

Organizers are busy making final plans for Summerfest July 28-31 in downtown Dallas, where the community's annual celebration will be themed "Under the Sea."

Things then shift to Rickreall and the fairgrounds for the always popular Polk County Fair, which runs Aug. 11-14 featuring the theme "Planting Memories at the Polk County Fair."

There's also plenty to do in northwest Polk County, where the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde hosts its annual Veterans' Powwow July 8-10, the Spirit Mountain Rodeo July 15-17 and the Competition Powwow Aug. 19-21.

The fun doesn't end until Polk County's unofficial end-of-summer celebration, the Independence Hop & Heritage Festival, Sept. 23-24.

Oh, did we forget to note the series of summer concerts our three largest communities host in July and August: the Monmouth Music in the Park Series gets the ball rolling at Main Street Park in Monmouth July 6; the Sounds of Summer Concert Series in Dallas begins July 7; and the Independence Riverview Park Amphitheater Summer Concert Series starts July 8. There are also movies in the park in Independence every Thursday from July 7 through Aug. 25 and in Dallas coming in August.

It seems that each and every week from now through late September will bring with it some form of affordable family fun close to home. What better way to soak up the warmth, sunshine and long days that summer brings than to relax and unwind by attending one of the many local events that fill the Polk County community calendar during the next few months.


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