City officials provide updates on upcoming Prairie Days and centennial celebration activities


With one of Yelm’s biggest weekends of the summer just over one week away, city officials updated what to expect during Prairie Days weekend.

Kicking off the busy weekend from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, June 21, at the Yelm Community Center will be bingo, hosted by Yelm’s Lions Club. This event dates back to the original Prairie Days concept, when the club traditionally hosted bingo during the celebration.

“We are kicking off Prairie Days by bringing back a well-loved event from the past,” said Line Roy, the City of Yelm’s communications and recreation coordinator. “The games are free, but you can support the Lions Club by purchasing concessions, and they’re going to be selling out of the kitchen.”

Cody Colt, the City of Yelm’s public works director, added, “[This] is traditional to what used to happen back in the day. If you weren’t here then, they did bingo not at the community center, but the Lions hosted it.”

Beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 22, is the annual Prairie Days Parade, hosted by Yelm’s Chamber of Commerce. Colt said the City will provide the security for the event, along with road closures and protection along Yelm Avenue during the parade.

“The police department’s going to be staffing the parade like we have every year for road closures,” Yelm Police Chief Rob Carlson said. “After the parade, we’ll have staff in the park. Nisqually Tribal has provided four officers for us as well, and we should have 13 total for the events that Line listed off in the park and throughout the evening.”

Colt said Yelm Police Department and Yelm Public Works will be “all hands on deck” for staffing during the event, manning roadway closures, bathrooms and helping at the park.

“They have roughly about 30 entries, but we want more. At our best, before COVID, we’d get almost up to 100 entries. We want something like that, so please encourage people to come out to that,” Colt said. “On our end, people enjoy going to it. It’s a positive interaction with the public. We get time to chat with people that are standing next to you when you’re blocking a roadway. You have kids coming up and saying hi to you, the chief driving around and passing out stickers. It’s a great time to interact with the public, and it’s a great time for our staff to interact with the public.”

Roy said the annual Prairie Days Parade will honor Yelm’s centennial anniversary by showcasing Yelm’s Historic Preservation Commission as the event’s grand marshals. The commission includes Gene Coulter, LouAnn (Hap) Hansen, Sandra Story, Austin Gray and Jesse Kellems.

“The Yelm Historic Preservation Commission manages the City’s historic preservation program with the support from the Community Development Department,” Yelm Prairie Days wrote on Facebook. “With a rich tapestry of history woven into the very fabric of our community, the City of Yelm Historic Preservation Commission stands as a beacon of preservation, celebration, and education. Their dedication to honoring our past and enriching our present is truly commendable.”

Roy said the parade route will begin at the corner of Prairie Park and Yelm Avenue and will conclude on Washington Avenue and “push forward” to the end of Third Street.

After the parade, a plethora of activities will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Yelm City Park,  including the annual “touch-a-truck” event, kids day activities, a pie-baking contest, a chalk-art contest, different games, crafts and activities presented by local organizations, along with a magic show performance at 1:30 p.m. and an award presentation at 2:45 p.m.

Winners of the pie-baking and chalk-art contests will be announced during the presentation at 2:45 p.m., along with the Yelm Chamber of Commerce’s parade float awards.

Once the event ends, city officials will begin transitioning the park from Prairie Days activities into a concert setting for the Party on the Prairie event. Featuring food trucks and a beer garden, activities at the park will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the Nisqually Tribe’s dedication of the new stage.

Following the blessing, Hogue and Moore Band will open the concert at 5:45 p.m., followed by the Olson Brothers Band at 6:30 p.m. Country music star and Tenino High School alumni Adam Craig will take the stage at 8 p.m., and the event will conclude with a drone show “at about” 9:45 p.m.

Beginning at 9 a.m. on Sunday, June 23, the annual charity mush ball tournament at Longmire Park will see numerous teams competing for bragging rights, medals and a donation to the championship team’s charity of choice.

“The more teams we have, the more we can donate to the winning team’s charity,” Roy said. “There is so much going on during these three days, and I hope that you will come out and enjoy what our amazing team has put together for our community.”

Roy said to keep an eye on social media for a “big parking map” to display various locations near Yelm City Park to drop off vehicles. She said the City is working with businesses around the downtown district to see if they’ll open their parking lots for the weekend’s events.

The City is also working on gaining shuttle services for the weekend to potentially pick up and drop off Prairie Day attendees throughout the day.