Pony Express Days doesn’t begin for another three weeks, but there are a few things you need to know in advance, particularly if you plan on entering a float in the parade or if you’re going to enter the chili cook-off competition.
McKinleyville’s annual town festival will be held June 4 to 8, with the McKinleyville Chamber of Commerce Pony Express Kickoff Mixer taking place the week before on Thursday, May 29. The mixer begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Miller Business Park off Nursery Way and is hosted by NorCal Pet. The mixer will include live music, hot dogs, food and drink, a raffle, prizes and more, The entire community is invited, rain or shine.
This year, the Clam Chowder Cook-Off has been replaced with a Chili Cook-Off. Chamber Executive Director Heather Vina said that the participants were polled and the chamber discovered that people would rather attend a chili cook-off than a chowder cook-off, so the change was made.
The food competition will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 4 at the Activity Center at Pierson Park.
Only eight competitors will be allowed, so those who want to enter the contest need to contact the chamber at (707) 839-2449 before all the spaces are filled. Applications must be turned in by May 20.
The community is invited to attend the event. Diners will serve as the judges, The Pilot Rock Ramblers will perform, and there will be beer and wine available. Students from McKinleyville schools will serve desserts.
Pony Express parade
One of the highlights of Pony Express Days is the parade down Central Avenue. The event begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 7 at McKinleyville High School. Those who wish to enter the parade must obtain entry forms and hand them in by May 27. Contact the chamber at (707) 839-2449.
Pony Express highlights
After the parade, attendees head over to Pierson Park for the Pony Express Festival, where there will be food, music and various booths with crafts and non-profits groups. Booth applications must be received by May 24.
Other events this year include:
• The first Farm Fest will take place at A&L Feed and Garden Supply from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday, June 6. There will be bands and beer and homesteading demos, with classes on beekeeping, cheese making, soap making and raising chickens.
• The Firemen’s Muster will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 5 at the Ray’s Food Place parking lot. The Arcata Fire Department will compete against other departments in a spirited, wet competition.
• The Pony Express Dance will be held from 8 p.m. to midnight on Friday, June 6 at A&L Feed.
• The Pony Express Days Horseshoe Tournament will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 7 at Pierson Park, Call (707) 839-2449 to enter a two-person team.
• The Gymkhana takes place all day Sunday, June 8 at the McKinleyville Rodeo Grounds on Kjer Road.
Play in your parks
McKinleyville Parks and Recreation wants you to get out and Play in your Parks!
Located centrally in McKinleyville between Gwin and Pickett Roads just off Central Ave, Pierson Park is a great place to spend an afternoon with the family. The park has a playground, tot lot playground, large grass area, gazebo and barbecue area. If that’s not enough to keep you busy, bring down horseshoes and bocce balls to take advantage of the courts. The park is also home to the Community Garden; plots are available, reserve yours today at the Parks and Recreation Office at 1656 Sutter Road.
Hiller Park is a fabulous way to explore and play with your family, friends, and even your four-legged best friends! The park is home to a playground, tot lot playground, picnic tables, barbecue area, grassy area, and lots of trails! New to Hiller Park is the Botanical Garden. The staff at the Parks and Recreation Department would like to remind users of the park that dogs can only be off leash in the grassy areas west of the split rail fence. Off-leash dogs must be under voice control. Thank you for being courteous of other users of the park!
Larissa Park is a cute neighborhood park that serves the neighborhoods by Reasor Rd. and Central Ave. It offers a tot Llot playground, barbecue and picnic table and a grassy area.