National Lentil Festival canceled this year

Legendary Lentil Cook-Off, virtual 5K race scheduled in place of festival



Volunteers serve lentil chili for attendees the 2018 National Lentil Festival.

ZACH GOFF, Evergreen reporter

The annual 2020 National Lentil Festival was canceled due to health concerns related to COVID-19.

Britnee Christen, festival director of the National Lentil Festival, said she wants everyone in the community to stay safe. 

The Lentil Festival began in 1989. In 2021, the festival committee plans to hold the 32nd Bean Bash on Aug. 20 and 21, she said. 

Christen said despite the cancellation, there will be a Legendary Lentil Cook-off, as well as a digital 5K run. The organization also hopes to host “micro-events” to supplement the festival. Details for these events will be on the Lentil Festival website

“We didn’t take this decision lightly,” Christen said. “Really taking into consideration the health and safety of our community — that’s the top priority for all of us. Period.”

She said community involvement helps make the festival memorable. The food vendors, craft booths and awareness vendors all come together to help make the festival a memorable experience for the Pullman community.

“We are not your typical festival where you might only see craft vendors […] we truly are a community event,” Christen said. “When I see those smiling faces and people having a good time — that’s how I know we hit all of our marks and we are producing something that is truly special for our community.”

Ryan Lazo, community partnerships coordinator for the Center for Civic Engagement, helps provide volunteers to support the event. 

The CCE also recovers left-over chili with the Pullman Community Action Center, repackages it and sends it to food pantries across the county, Lazo said. 

“We’ve gotten over 2,500 pounds of chili over the last few years that has been saved from the landfill and has gone to families who need it in Whitman County,” he said.

Lazo said he is sad the event was canceled. Members of the CCE enjoy participating in the lentil festival.

“It’s nice to be able to introduce our new Cougs to those non-profit organizations […] it’s a fun community gathering, and you can’t beat free chili,” Lazo said. “It’s a good way to learn about your community in one spot, at one time, in a fun way.”

With seven years of participation in the event, Lazo said people are always coming in and out of the community because Pullman is a college town, which makes each year different from the last. 

“We are really looking forward to using this year as an opportunity to get creative and still provide an opportunity to create new memories and share the lentil love,” Christen said.