Over the river and through the woods to Republic

by Mary Masingale

Over the river and through the woods will find you in Republic, Washington! Yes, Republic, a somewhat isolated community nestled in the mountains on the north side of the Columbia River and west of Sherman Pass on SR 20, Republic was known for its gold – and was founded during the days of the gold rush. Along with mining, logging was a big industry here and Vaagen Brothers Sawmill, a major employer.

The gold mine and the saw mill both closed in recent years, leaving Republic in search of a new industry. Ferry County is sparsely populated – just 7,000 human residents – but we are abundantly blessed with wildlife – including moose, turkeys, two species of deer, mountain goats, cougars – and yes, even wolves. Ferry County also boasts several freshwater lakes brimming with trout and surrounded by huckleberry bushes. If you want to see nature, Ferry County is a great place to start. Ferry County is abundant in beautiful scenery, clean lakes and streams, and wildlife – in fact Republic has its own Mule Deer herd – that have taught themselves to use the crosswalks on our main street.

We want to share the beauty and unique isolation of our community by inviting visitors – and thus bring in much needed commerce and employment. Republic’s Chamber of Commerce wants everyone to know how special it is here – and that we welcome visitors! We have a rail trail that reaches from Republic to Canada (some portions are scheduled for new surfacing). It’s very popular for wintertime cross country skiing. We have a world-renown fossil center – visitors worldwide come to visit our Stonerose Eocene Fossil Museum – you even get to dig your own fossils – and if you find a rare one, it may be named after you!

As everyone in this part of the country knows, Northeast Washington winters can be slow and dreary – but we have a cure for that!

Republic’s Winterfest Celebration is January 15, 2022, and it is definitely worth the trip to Republic! Outhouse races, community tug of wars, Sasquatch Calling, Dog Pulls – and best of all (in my opinion)– we will have over 15 teams of snow sculpturers working right on our main street. Local merchants sponsor large boxes of snow and the artists (anyone who signs up) get started on Saturday morning and finish up in time for judging at 4pm. While wandering the street watching the piles of snow transform into works of art, you can watch the always exciting outhouse races! Most of our racers now don a costume of some sort- so we’ve had T’Rex’s race, along with Minions and a variety of others. It’s crazy fun – and just like normal races – we all secretly wait for the crashes (no one gets hurt although a chamber president was run over one year). Go ahead and get judgmental over our chili tasting contest – the winner gets a trophy and bragging rights for the next 12 months. If dogs are your thing (and what’s wrong with you if they aren’t?) our dog pulls bring lots of action to the block. From Pomeranians to Mastiffs – there’s a beer container just their size waiting to be pulled across the finish line. Lots of local talented dogs in the dog pull! Perhaps you have a way with Sasquatch? Many try annually to call in this elusive beast – and he usually shows up. In fact, two male Sasquatch responded to our calls last Winterfest and we almost had a Sasquatch fight – but thankfully, cooler heads prevailed (photo attached).

It’s winter – so of course there will be fire pits to huddle near – and catch up with your neighbors on local gossip. Republic’s band and choir students have offered to entertain us – as well as local musicians.

The sculpture judging (spectators cast ballots) wraps up at 3, followed by our awards ceremony. There are lots of other activities squeezed into this fun day full of outdoor activities – and don’t leave before viewing the torchlight parade – a combination of anyone lit up that wants to parade down Republic’s main street (last year one float was stuck in deep snow – but customers from Republic’s Brewery responded to their cries for help.

I would like to urge anyone with the January blues to consider a trip to Republic January 15th. Our motels have lots of room if you want to stay over – and we will have lots of local vendors providing a variety of tasty treats! Republic Brewing Company will be open and serving many of their special brews. Our website is under construction, so please visit Republic Chamber’s Winterfest page or email us at republicwinterfest@gmail.com

If you would like more information, please visit our Facebook page: Republic Chamber of Commerce Winterfest.

You can hate winter – or you can embrace it – come to Republic and have some fun!

Mary Masingale,
President Republic Chamber of Commerce

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