History of the Cascade Days

This explanation of the history of Cascade Days comes from the publication, “So They Called the Town ‘Concrete'” by Charles M. Dwelley, written in 1980. The celebration began in 1935, and per the article, stopped sometime in the early 1970s. Local leadership restarted it in 2004. It was also known for a time as “Good Old Days”.

The town, from the time it was the two communities of Cement City and Baker, had a flair for celebrations and special events. Some of the get-togethers were events of rivalry between the two communities where even an election was a good excuse to battle the issue out in the saloons and to celebrate the outcome in the same way. There were planned events for holidays with the Fourth of July drawing the largest attendance. There were men who had a genius for arranging dances, ball games and local theatricals. The word spread and often special railroad cars would be added to bring visitors to get in on the fun.Cement plant picnics were early summer events, and tales are told that the election in which the town became “Concrete” through incorporation was won by the Superior group who furnished a free barrel of whiskey to help make up the minds of the assembled prospective voters.

Over the years of trying to win favor for the highway over Cascade Pass to eastern Washington, many meetings were held with state and national figures attending. One of these turned into sort of a celebration with a parade after the dinner meeting and Cascade Days was born. In 1935 C. E. Tumelson, local marshal, ran for the position of county sheriff and hosted a local rally with a whole steer roasted over a pit in the up-town parking lot. He didn’t win, but assembled a huge crowd for a day of political speeches.

The following year, the previously-planned Cascade Highway meeting and celebration sponsored by the Booster Club was taken over by the Eagles and the American Legion and boomed into a Logger’s Contest show with other attractions to entertain a big crowd. Carnival, parade, dances, and Queen contest, and sport features were standard. However, the most ambitious celebration over the years had such attractions as the first parachute jump in Concrete by Archie Griffiths, a local boy; a full-scale rodeo in which one performer was killed; professional acts and a wrestling show — plus airplane rides and numerous parachute jumps in which a woman participated; a Skagit River Canoe Race; Horse Show with drill teams; a hot-rod contest; a Canadian team playing cricket; a barbecued bear eating contest open to all (in which the committee had to pay a fine for getting a bear out of season).

In all, huge crowds assembled as the celebrations in Concrete became widely talked about. Completion of the North Cross State Highway ended that promotion. In recent years, the annual event brought in the wrong type of crowd and more trouble than local law enforcement officers could handle, so the “big” celebration was discontinued.