Benton City plans to honor the historic Yellowstone Trail at its annual Benton City Daze festival, which is Sept. 8-9.
The trail was a transcontinental road built nearly 100 years ago when there were no numbered roads and maps across America.
The trail was promoted as one of the best roads from Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound, and it came right through Benton City and the Yakima Valley on its way to the Pacific Ocean, said Heather Duncan, president of the Benton City Chamber of Commerce.
According to the Hudson Chamber of Commerce website in Wisconsin, the growth of the automobile industry in the early part of the last century demanded a need for paved roads. American citizens no longer wanted muddy unconnected dirt roads and put pressure on the government to make some changes. Wisconsin was the first state to enact a numbered road system, and the rest of the country followed.
The Yellowstone Trail Association grew out of this need for better roads, the website stated. It was also the first group to create a transcontinental route through the upper portion of the United States.
Benton City will celebrate that centennial with a parade, street dance, bed races, talent and eating contests, bingo games, live music, arts and crafts and plenty of other fun stuff.
The Yellowstone Trail was marked by yellow paint on boulders, fence posts or buildings, and with black arrows pointing toward Yellowstone Park. Duncan said the town will recreate those trail markings through town along the original route.
"Visitors will see a lot of yellow and black along the main street and be able to view a unique aspect of American history," she said. "This year is just the beginning. We have 18 years to celebrate the original 1912-30 promotion of the route."
Benton City Daze kicks off with a pancake breakfast at City Park at 7 a.m. Sept. 8 followed by the parade at 10 a.m., which will travel down Main Street and end at the Kiona-Benton City Elementary School.
"Daze has seen a number of changes over the years, but the basics have stayed the same," Duncan said. "Some long-running favorites include the Little Miss Benton City pageant and the skate park expo. The bed races and eating contests are recent additions to the day's line-up. New this year will be an engine burn-out where attendees can buy a chance to win based on their estimate of when the old pickup's motor will blow when revved up without oil or water."
There will be a street dance starting at 5 p.m. Sept. 8 in front of Sunrise Veterinary Clinic by the Park & Ride lot. Live music will be provided by Tri-City band Retread, which plays mix of rock 'n' roll and cover tunes from Creedence Clearwater Revival, Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Sept. 9 activities open with a Cowboy Church at the Community Center building, with Benton City country gospel singer Cale Moon providing the vocals.
A dancing horse performance at the Benton City fairgrounds also is that morning with a dressage exhibition by Ruben Villasenor. The Tri-City Desert Riders Mounted Drill Team also will perform, and there will be pony rides for the kids as well as other games and children's activities.
Admission is free. For more information, call the chamber at 588-4984.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org