Heritage Festival benefits city and university

Jenna Francis

The 19th Annual Kent Heritage Festival will take place Saturday, July 5 on the streets of downtown Kent. Beginning with a 5K race from Dix Stadium and ending with evening band performances, activities have been planned for the all-day event downtown.

 Mike Beder, owner of Water Street Tavern, Venice Café and Tree City Coffee, said he has high expectations for the festival this year.

 “With all the press that Kent has been getting for its downtown revitalization, I think this year will be the biggest yet if the weather cooperates,” Beder said in an email.

 Lori Wemhoff, executive director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, said, “the festival is Kent’s biggest community, family-friendly event held.” She said that last year approximately 25,000 people attended the events.

 Although last year’s festival was successful, some changes will be made this year. Wemhoff said the children’s area will be in the North Water Street section near the foodies and the car show is now called the NAPA/Kent Heritage Festival Car Show. About 130 vendors are expected to participate at the festival this year.

 The Kent Heritage Festival also has many benefits for Kent businesses.

 Ron Burbick, developer of Acorn Alley, said he has been involved in the festival for a long time. He said the businesses of Acorn Alley are benefitting from the festival because visitors are being attracted downtown.

 “People are able to see what downtown is about today,” Burbick said. “Kent is the place to go, the place to be.”

 Some city officials say that the festival doesn’t only benefit businesses.

 “The festival is a great community gathering that celebrates the best parts of Kent and showcases the eclectic mix of business and residents that call Kent home,” said Kent City Manager Dave Ruller. “Kent is an American original and Heritage Fest has a little something for everybody.”

 The benefits of the festival are the results of many people’s hard work, he said.

 Ruller said the festival is really the work of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, but the city of Kent does help out.

 “The City stays plugged in to those discussions and on the day of the festival we help make sure everything runs smooth,” he said. “But the success of this festival is a testament to what a small group of inspired volunteers can achieve when they rally around their community.”

Contact Jenna Francis at [email protected].