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Cherry festival goes big screen

The Dalles Chamber of Commerce invites one and all to “Return to the Planet of the Cherries” April 27-29, for the 39th annual Northwest Cherry Festival.

This year’s theme is a reference to “Return to the Planet of the Apes,” a 1975 animated television series set in the “Planet of the Apes” universe. But don’t worry, astronauts are not being hurled into the future to a world dominated by highly intelligent cherries.

“We were basing [the festival theme] off the big movie theme in honor of the Granada,” which officially reopened this year, said Chamber President/CEO Lisa Farquharson.

The big movie theme continues through all the chamber’s major events this year. The Distinguished Citizen’s Banquet was themed “Roll Out the Red Carpet” and the Starlight Parade will have a movie theme as well, Farquharson said.

The Granada will even be showing a movie during the festival, she said—one of the new events the chamber is excited to announce for this year’s festival.

“We’ve added new things all the way around,” Farquharson said, describing a pie-eating contest and a dunk tank, Aeroprint designed T-Shirts that will be for sale, an antique firetruck that will be on display Saturday and full entertainment until 5 p.m. on Sunday — including a morning community church service by Cornerstone Church.

Visitors will also get a unique view of The Dalles’ local businesses through a Cherry Trail map, detailing 38 different businesses and organizations that have cherry-themed specials in honor of the festival. The Cherry Guide will also be getting an upgrade this year, Farquharson said. “We’ve done a Cherry Guide in the past, but nothing like this,” she said. The Cherry Guide will be available by April 14 and more information on the Cherry Trail will available in the next week or so.

Many festival favorites will be returning this year—including the Tonkin Subaru parade, Northwest Cherry Idol, the carnival and the agricultural fair.

The festival excitement has already begun—applications to participate in the parade and Cherry Idol already open on the Chamber website and voting for the Little Royals contests, where two 3-to-7-year-olds—one boy and one girl—will be added to the Cherry Festival court, opened April 9.

Everyone is invited to stop by the Rivermark Community Credit Union office at 1240 West Sixth Street, The Dalles, to vote for their favorite Little Miss Royal Ann and Little Mr. Royal Andy until April 20. Multiple votes are allowed, but only one vote per person per day will be accepted.

The winning Little Royals will receive gifts from Rivermark and Fred Meyer and be coronated alongside King Bing and Queen Ann on April 28 before riding in the parade.

Applications for both horse and non-horse entries to the parade are due Monday, April 23 at 5 p.m., and judging to determine first, second and third place winners in each category will be held between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. the day of the parade, April 28.

Non-horse groups—categorized as Civic, Commercial, Community, and Floats—will be judged primarily on interpretation/presentation of the theme and eye appeal, but also on originality and effective use of size. Horse entries will be judged equally on attire, tack equipment, cleanliness and health of the horse, parade appearance/showmanship and manners of the horse/equitation. 100 points are possible in each category and winners will be chosen based on the highest percentages earned. Commercial entries have a $40 application fee and non-commercial/non-profit entries cost $20.

The deadline for entry into Cherry Idol is April 13—to enter, applicants must submit an audio or video clip to The Dalles Chamber or upload it to the event’s Facebook page.

The contest is open to all ages, but minors must have written parental consent to qualify.

After the preliminary round ends April 13, judges will select their top five adults (age 15 and up) and top five kids (age 14 and under) to sing live at the Cherry Festival. Three winners in each category—six winners total—will win cash prizes ranging from $50 to $150 for the kids and $100 to $250 for adults.

For more information on the cherry festival and applications for Cherry Idol and the parade, visit


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