Lentils, used for chili, chips and more, will be the subject of this weekend’s festivities covering much of downtown Pullman.
The National Lentil Festival, in its 24th year, starts Friday at 5 p.m. and will continue through Saturday.
The lens-shaped legumes sparked the first festival in 1989. It started as a community event to celebrate the region’s large contribution to the nation’s lentil production, Festival Director Amberly Boone said.
While the area currently produces a quarter of the lentils in the U.S., according to the festival website, Whitman County grew 98 percent of the nation’s stock in 1990.
All of the lentils used by the festival were donated by Palouse Trading, Boone said.
The festival will be kicked off with a street fair sponsored by Thomas Hammer Coffee Roasters in downtown Pullman.
At the fair, attendees can enjoy vendors, a children’s area, microbrew tasting event, and live music—Snake River Six and Soulstice—sponsored by Z-Fun 106.1 FM. The live music starts at 11 a.m.
Volunteers will hand out chili from the famous Big Bowl of Free Lentil Chili, sponsored by WSU and RE/MAX Home and Land.
Saturday morning will bring the Tase T. Lentil 5K Fun Run, which will start at Simpson United Methodist Church. Other events include the Tour de Lentil 50K and 100K Bike Rides, Little Lentil Sprout Parade and Grand Parade, the Lentil Marketplace and the Legendary Lentil Cook-Off.
There will be more than 100 vendors at the street fair Friday and more than 60 on Saturday, about half of which are returning from previous years, Boone said.
Vendors come from all around the country, the farthest being the Illinois-based company called Enjoy Life Foods, she said. The company is one of many sponsoring the festival and will be giving away a free bag of lentil chips called Plentils with the purchase of any festival merchandise.
Boone hopes the festival this year will break previous records for attendance by attracting more students with the entertainment line-up and Facebook advertising campaign.
About 26,000 people attended last year, she said.
“This year we expect more in Reaney Park to see entertainment-headliner Tyrone Wells,” Boone said.
Wells, originally from Spokane, will be playing several hits, including many from his most recent album.
The festival, which takes approximately nine months, three full-time chamber staff members, about 20 committee chairs and 300 volunteers to plan and pull off, will be all over Pullman, but with main events happening in downtown Pullman and Reaney Park on Friday and Saturday.