Tradition: Community Continues to Support First Festival of the Season
VADER — Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Vader Saturday afternoon for the annual May Day Festival, the first festival of the year in Lewis County. It has been held on the first Saturday in May since 1952.
The crowd celebrated the beginning of spring by playing carnival games, buying crafts and produce, participating in a cake walk and watching the annual parade, which featured various floats including one for May Day royalty Hunter Smith and Railey St. Jean.
Lamont Gradeck, who drove from Mossyrock for the event, dressed up as the superhero Captain America and sold inflatable hammers and swords to kids to support his organization American Pride Associates, which helps homeless veterans.
Because of his superhero outfit, Gradeck said Vader Mayor Ken Smith asked him to be in the parade, which Gradeck said was unexpected since he wasn’t even planning to go to the festival and parade until days earlier.
Gradeck said he heard about May Day Festival from people in Walmart last week. He now plans to attend next year, likely in costume again.
“I was in Walmart and saw people buying candy, and thought there must be a parade in town,” Gradeck said.
Vader resident Ronda Sigler, who helps at the festival each year, said the Little Crane Cafe owners John and Ginnie Dailey have been instrumental the past seven years offering all the youth-oriented activities for free.
“You couldn’t go to any other carnival and get anything for free,” Sigler said.
Sigler said she knows firsthand how important local businesses and community support are to the May Day Festival.
Although the nonprofit is dissolving, Sigler said she is optimistic in Vader and the future of the May Day Festival.
“I’m still going to help because things don’t go on like this if people don’t help,” Sigler said.