Festival brings community, WSU together

Celebration kicks off next Friday with free samples from 350 gallon chili bowl



Tom Weaver, a 1981 WSU graduate, stirs the world’s largest pot of lentil chili during last years National Lentil Festival.

CHLOE GRUNDMEIER, Evergreen reporter

Pullman has celebrated community and agriculture the weekend before classes start at WSU since 1989 through the National Lentil Festival.

Britnee Packwood, director of the festival, said this kind of event is a “way to share the identity of an area.”

“A lot of people think we just grow wheat, but we’re so much more than that,” Packwood said. “We have vibrant communities, involved citizens. Being able to carry forward your heritage and identity is why these kinds of events are so important.”

The Palouse area grows 18 percent of the nation’s lentils, according to the festival website. People from all over the country and the world come to the Palouse to enjoy the festival, Packwood said.

The festival brings tourists from all around to enjoy everything the Palouse has to offer, including the Palouse Scenic Byway, Palouse Falls and the numerous farms in the area.

“The festival is community-sponsored but reaches far beyond the community,” Packwood said. “It helps us share why we’re a cool little place with the rest of the world.”

Packwood said this opportunity is great for new students to explore the ‘snapshot’ of Pullman offered by local businesses offer.

“It’s really important for students to know about the community they’ll be spending their next four or five years in,” she said, “and this festival is a great way for them to get a glimpse of what this community is like and be welcomed to it.”

Several popular aspects of the Lentil Festival include the free lentil chili served Friday evening, the kid’s play area called Lentil Land, the Tase T. Lentil 5K Fun Run, the WSECU Grand Parade and the cooking demonstrations. Throughout the whole festival, several bands will take the main stage to provide music for the festivities.

The 30th Annual National Lentil Festival will take place from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, August 17 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 18 in Reaney Park and downtown Pullman. Admission is free and open to the public. Go to lentilfest.com for more information.

“The Lentil Festival is a reminder that, yes, we are WSU, but also that Pullman has a vibrant living space for people who’ve chosen to call this their long-term home,” Packwood said. “It’s a way to bridge the gap between the university and the rest of the community.”