Wilkeson’s annual National Handcar Races – and everything that goes with the yearly event – will energize the small, foothills town this Saturday, July 16.
The 41st annual festival is sponsored by the Wilkeson Booster Club.
Things get rolling at 11 a.m. as the highway through town is closed so the traditional, old-fashioned parade can travel its usual Church Street route. There’s no charge to be in the parade and entries can begin staging at 9:30 a.m.; entrants also can apply on the city’s website, www.townofwilkeson.com.
The handcar races begin at noon or when the parade is completed. There is a fee to enter the races.
Throughout the day there will be vendors and entertainment along with a Kid’s Zone where youngsters can enjoy games at Wilkeson Elementary School. There will be free face painting and several food booths will be scattered around town and in Wilkeson’s businesses.
“Skookum,” the Handcar Clown, will be wandering around town and at the tracks providing entertainment.
The railroad handcar races begin around noon on the tracks at Coke Oven Park. The competitive fun has been expanded through the years. Entrants can sign up for the races at noon or competitors can register early at city’s website. Bleacher seating is available for those who arrive in time.
Breakfast is available at the Wilkeson Eagles from 8 to 10 a.m. Proceeds from the breakfast will benefit the Carbonado Booster Club.
The evening is given over to an adults-only crowd as the Wilkeson Eagles host a beer garden and street dance featuring the popular band “Cylas” from 6 to 10 p.m.
This year’s event is dedicated to Charity Lisherness who died last year after suffering injuries during the race. Her family recently installed a bench and small memorial in her memory. The memorial is near the finish line of the handcar races. She had been part of a racing team for several years.
“We have installed several new safety features on the handcar, including a safety rail surrounding the handcar,” Wilkeson Booster Club President Bill Summers said.
The Wilkeson Booster started the Handcar Races as an Independence Day celebration in 1976 highlighting Wilkeson’s history of coal mining and railroading.
Wilkeson is five miles south of Buckley on State Highway 165. For more information, contact Summers at 253-255-2316 or 360-829-0917.