HERMISTON — Hermiston’s longtime mid-summer festival is returning to its original roots.

With the Hermiston Downtown District taking the reins of the mid-July event — in recent years it was called Funfest — they decided to revive the family-friendly festival known as Spudfest.

While “fun” is no longer a part of the festival’s name, Spudfest returns with lots of familiar and popular activities. The event is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in and around Hermiston’s downtown festival street area. Get there early — free bags of potatoes will be handed out while supplies last.

“It was a great event to start with,” said Brandi Howard, Hermiston Downtown District vice president. “Also, of all the downtown functions, it’s the most family-driven one.”

Spudfest features music, a variety of live entertainment, kids’ games and vendor booths (as of Monday, 50 had confirmed). In addition, the Rotary Breakfast is at 7:30 a.m. (also downtown) and the 24th annual Cool Rides Car Show is being held at McKenzie Park.

Highlighting the festival street is part of a collaborative effort between the downtown business owners, the city of Hermiston and the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce. Judy Pederson, president of the Hermiston Downtown District, said the idea is to continue to encourage more visitors to the Main Street area.

The original SpudFest, which was organized by what was then known as the Downtown Hermiston Merchants Association, was held for about a decade, ending in 2000. Several years later, it was reinvented as Funfest.

Howard, who also owns Andee’s Boutique, said with the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce stretched thin with staff changes and additional projects, it made sense for the Main Street businesses to take a more active role.

“It really is a downtown event, so we stepped up,” Howard said. “We’re still working together with the chamber and the city. They have been so helpful.”

In addition to the monthly First Thursday, other upcoming Hermiston Downtown District events include Umatilla County Fair Parade Kick-off (Aug. 3), Annual Sidewalk Sale (Aug. 8), MelonFest (Aug. 17), Farm to Junk (Sept. 21) and Harvest Fest (Oct. 5).

Volunteers and vendors are needed for Hermiston Downtown District festivals. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/hermistondowntown or call 541-667-5026.

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Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539

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