Every August, the city of Longview, Washington has its annual Squirrel Fest — how cool is that? This year, I made it to Squirrel Fest for the first time. I even took the tour to see all the squirrel bridges… but more on that in a moment.
On my way in, I came across Longview’s giant squirrel statue.
Right next to it is a steam-powered train (which doesn’t actually go anywhere), and that’s where the steam is coming from in this photo.
Looking at the inscription at the base of the statue, I saw that it was in memory of Amos J. Peters, the person who donated Longview’s first squirrel bridge in 1963.
Then I came to the trailer welcoming everyone to the festivities.
Of course Squirrel Fest isn’t the Olympics or anything, but security was on duty.
In the main area, there were all sorts of cool things going on, including a parade, lots of merchants’ and sponsors’ booths, a big area for kids, and a stage. There was a gigantic squirrel named Sandy McNutt roaming the grounds, cheerfully mingling with people thoughout. As you can see here, he (or she — squirrels are not sexually dimorphic) was happy to dance with people too.
One of the booths featured this gigantic knitted squirrel, which must’ve taken quite a while to make! You can gauge the size of it by the stapler and the pen that are also on the table.
And of course, there was plenty of pro-squirrel sentiment to go ’round.
One of the big attractions for me was the trolley tour to see all of Longview’s squirrel bridges. For each of them, I’ll give both a close-up and a wide angle photo showing how the bridge fits into the surroundings.
The original squirrel bridge (believed to be world’s first squirrel bridge) is the Nutty Narrows Bridge, built in 1963. According to the official Squirrel Fest pamphlet, Peters built the bridge “after seeing squirrels attempting to cross Olympia Way from the Library grounds to the Old West Side Neighborhood”. What an awesome idea!
The Bruce Kemp Bridge was built in memory of him in 2011. It is believed to be the first covered squirrel bridge anywhere. It has a 24/7 webcam attached to it, which can easily be found by searching online.
The John R. Dick Bridge was designed and built by him and installed in 2012, shortly after his death.
The OBEC Bridge was constructed and donated by that company and installed in 2013.
The Safety Awareness Bridge was designed and constructed by the Bits and Bots Robotics Club from R.A. Long and Mark Morris High Schools. As the official Squirrel Fest pamphlet states, it was “inspired by the memory of Linda LaCoursiere, who was struck by a car.”
The R.D. Olson Bridge was designed by R.D. Olson Manufacturing, Inc. and installed in 2015. It is a replica of the Lewis & Clark Bridge, which spans the Columbia River from Longview, Washington to Rainier, Oregon.
The newest squirrel bridge in Longview was unveiled at this year’s Squirrel Fest. It was created by H&N Sheetmetal and S&R Sheet Metal, and it is scheduled to be put up in the trees in Spring 2017. It is modeled after the Fremont Bridge, which spans the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon.
It was quite a hot day out for Squirrel Fest, so comically enough the squirrels had the good sense mostly just to stay cool in their trees. For the most part, they steered clear of the event in honor of them. However, in some wandering that I did after I left the main area, I did manage to spot a lone squirrel scurrying around in a park.
That squirrel didn’t stay long in the grass though. In just a few moments the squirrel had scampered up a nearby tree and who knows where from there — maybe off to a squirrel bridge!