Rhubarb Days

Friday, July 13 and Saturday, July 14 Rhubarb Days will be taking place in historic downtown Sumner. Stores in downtown Sumner will have specials and some will have in-store events. The Sumner Downtown Association will have historical and agricultural tours, both guided and self-guided, in and around Sumner. There will be window displays on Main Street explaining the history of rhubarb farming in Sumner along with facts about rhubarb.

The Ryan House Museum also located on Main Street, will be open for guided tours and Heritage Quest, the Northwest’s premier genealogy research library will feature special presentations throughout the day and present their “Rhubarb Photo Contest.”

The Friday evening concert will feature Chris Anderson at 6 pm. This is one in a series of open air concerts at the gazebo in Heritage Park, Cherry, and Main. The concert is courtesy of Music Off Main, a Sumner Arts Commission program.

Saturday, July 14, from 10 am to 5 pm, Heritage Park will have booths for games and contests, food including many rhubarb dishes, and merchants will have their own specials, sales, and events.

Laurie Miller, executive director of the Sumner Downtown Association, explained the purpose of Rhubarb Days, “It’s our second year and our signature event in Sumner. It was created to help promote the community and agricultural history within and around Sumner. So, basically Sumner years ago was part of the agricultural industry, which produced rhubarb and is the second largest rhubarb community in the U.S.”

Laurie discussed other details of the event, “There will be a rhubarb community bake off where people make beverages, jams, jelly, bars, cookies, ice cream, pies, cakes, and anything you can think of that’s made with rhubarb. It gets judged and we do ribbons, like in a fair, and the top three winners have their recipe published in the local Sumner rhubarb cookbook. There is also a pie eating contest. The Berryland Café is known for their rhubarb pies and cookbook. There’s ‘Aprons as Art’ which consists of a little tag that’s pinned to the apron describing the story to people who walk in the park to learn about the story of the apron and the farming culture.

Friday and Saturday will have master gardeners to answer questions about people’s gardens and concerns. We have some theatrical live presentation and live history presentations of people in town. For example, Mr. Ryan is well known in the community and relates to the history of Sumner. The Historical Society of Sumner grew rhubarb in Sumner and their historical home that people tour provides long standing ties to the community. The Ryan house is a 19th century home and George Ryan was instrumental in establishing the town of Sumner. He was the first mayor in 1891. The house’s original east wing was built in the 1860s, which consisted of a one room cabin and he bought some property and enlarged it in 1875. He is also responsible for owning a saw mill in 1926. The heirs donated the house to the city of Sumner to be used as a library and now is the home of the Sumner Historical Society.

There will be rhubarb games from 10 am to noon, with different types of games in Heritage Park and will be set up on Main Street. There will be a rhubarb pie walk, bean bag toss, rhubarb scavenger hunts, and children can have free photographs taken on antique tractors. Children can win tickets for the games they play and turn their tickets into the prize barn to choose their prize. Every child wins. Tickets are given to children for everything they participate in. It’s really fun for the family as nobody leaves empty handed. Games are for every age group and there is something for every age group.

There is an adult scavenger hunt and the heritage quest photo contest for adults. There is a pie eating contest for both adults and children. There is even the “bake off” for the children and adult categories.

There are lots of food booths and music and a country western band will be playing from 1 pm to 3 pm. Signs will be posted everywhere when things are taking place.

Aprons from the archives at the Ryan house will consist of over 100 aprons that are at least a century or older that will be displayed in five to six selected stores’ windows on how aprons have changed in the course of time.

It’s very much about the farming culture. Act One, a local theater group who does a lot of improve, live interactive presentations during wine walks and live Norman Rockwell window displays during Christmas, are quite a spirited group of people.”

Laurie shared what she thinks of Rhubarb Days, “Rhubarb Days is a great opportunity for communities, businesses, and tourists to join together in good, clean, American fun.” When asked the best thing about Rhubarb Days, Laurie replied, “Bringing forth the history of Sumner. I think it’s important in order to move forward, you need to know where you came from.”

Laurie mentioned, “What many people may not know about the Sumner Downtown Association is that other than myself, the Sumner Downtown Association is run 100% by volunteers ranging from merchants to community members. Each works hard to preserve and revitalize the historical culture of our community.”

For people that want to participate in the contests, they need to register in advance (the bake off contest, pie eating, and rhubarb photo contest, and rhubarb story contest) by visiting: http://rhubarbtimes.com/learnmoreaboutrh.html.

For more information about Rhubarb Days in Sumner, please email: laurie@sumnerdowntown.com. “We’re capitalizing on our hold of our rhubarb pie capitol of the world. We’ve been growing rhubarb for over 100 years in Sumner,” Laurie concluded.

By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com