Creation 2012 begins at the Expo Center in Enumclaw

Creation 2012 festival begins setting up at the Expo Center this week. - Kevin Hanson, The Courier-Herald
Creation 2012 festival begins setting up at the Expo Center this week.
— image credit: Kevin Hanson, The Courier-Herald

Organizers begin arriving in Enumclaw later this week in anticipation of Creation 2012, a four-day festival of music, outreach, testimony and all things celebrating the Christian faith.

Not since the halcyon days of the King County Fair, the wildly successful Les Schwab-sponsored country concerts or the one-time Lollapalooza experience has Enumclaw seen crowds to match those of Creation. Organizers boast of perhaps 15,000 souls daily pouring into the Expo Center grounds.

Following extensive set-up, the festival – which features several stages offering everything from quiet gospel to head-banging Christian rock – will kick off its four-day run July 18.

Impacts of Creation are seen everywhere – from the lines at coffee shops and crowded aisles in local grocery stores to the tent city that springs up in farm fields adjacent to the Expo Center. Organizers corral all the space the city has to offer and, beyond that, rent farmers’ fields in the vicinity of 284th Avenue Southeast.

Recognizing the economic impact, the annual Enumclaw Street Fair is hosted July 20 and 21. A shuttle bus will operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. making the jaunt between the Expo Center and Cole Street.

Now in the third year in Enumclaw – and in the second year of a 10-year contract – Creation staff have kind words for Enumclaw and city leaders praise the festival that attracts visitors from throughout the western United States and Canada.

Event organizers have seemingly perfected the concert experience and provide nearly everything needed to keep guests occupied, happy and fed. Creation provides its own security, food court and medical team. Kristen Damazio, who runs the center for  the city, said her staff is charged only with picking up trash, keeping restrooms clean and helping with set-up and take-down. The biggest logistic challenge is turning 284th into a one-way thoroughfare for the duration of Creation.

The Creation success story began in 1979 with a show in Pennsylvania. Things grew and, eventually, an event was planned for the western U.S. Organizers used The Gorge at George on the banks of the Columbia River for years before deciding a new venue was in order. They discovered Enumclaw and found a willing partner that boasted adequate space, nearby amenities and easy access from the coveted Interstate 5 corridor.

Those attending the four-day event will pay $120 at the gate, although advance tickets could be had for $94. Tickets for kids 6 to 11 years of age go for $49, with children 5 and younger admitted free. There’s no fee for camping, but a pass to use hot showers will run $25. Campers wishing the ultimate in comfort and sanitation can rent their own portable toilet, placed at their campsite, for $245.


Word on the music

When musicians play into the night, Kristen Damazio prepares for the ensuing phone calls.

The director of the Enumclaw Expo Center takes the brunt of complaints from citizens who don’t appreciate late-night music emanating from the center grounds.

Being proactive this time around, Damazio is spreading the word that entertainers playing to crowds at the upcoming Creation 2012 will not be violation of any city code. Members of the Enumclaw City Council passed an ordinance exempting the center from the city’s noise ordinance, just as the city of Puyallup has done with the Western Washington Fairgrounds.

Damazio said the music could play on into the early-morning hours without breaking any rules, but she has reached an agreement with Creation organizers. It’s understood that music should cease by 11 p.m. weeknights and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday of the show.

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