By: Collin Masteller
Fire dancers, stilt walkers, live music and free s’mores cooked over your very own campfire; this is not your typical Saturday night at the racetrack. The climax of Lantern Fest wasn’t a car wreck or a photo finish. Instead it was the sounds of wind and fire carrying dreams and hopes into the air.
The Lantern Fest is a local event in its infant stages. Saturday’s event was only the second time the festival has taken place in the region. The first time was last spring at Spokane Raceway Park. The event has grown significantly in its first year and had to be moved to the larger venue at Stateline Stadium Speedway in Post Falls.
“This year we have had over 2,000 people come thru the gate,” admissions supervisor Chelsea Booth said.
Tickets prices ranged from $25-$50 depending on when you registered. Portions of the proceeds are donated to Angels of America’s Fallen(www.aoafallen.org). Angels of America supports children of fallen military parents.
Every participant was given a gift box, a paper lantern, and sticks to cook s’mores. Fire pits were provided in the middle of the circle eight racetrack. People were encouraged to share their fire pits and make new friends.
“It’s a super chill event, good social thing that’s great for kids, it’s so magical,” Booth said.
New mom Angela Templer-Parker agreed with Booth.
“It’s a must go, not like a music festival but a family festival,” she said.
The evening was filled with fun and laughter but there was a minor recurring problem. The wind averaged 10 mph, strong enough to wreak havoc on paper fire lanterns. Many participants had trouble getting the lantern lit before the let-go countdown. Many attendees were forced to use tiki torches to light their lantern. Once they did many lanterns had trouble lifting off the ground.
The wind did not prevent those attending from enjoying themselves. Children danced with their favorite Disney princesses while loving couples embraced each other. The sounds of laughter and conversations around the campfire brought everyone together for a few moments as hundreds of paper lanterns floated into the horizon. New grandmother Lyn Radford spoke joyfully about the event.
“I thought it was awesome, very meaningful,” she said. “If you could have shut down the wind there would have been no problems at all.”