MILTON-FREEWATER — A bigger Broadway Block Party is in the works for this weekend.

In its second year, the community celebration will offer more music, longer hours and more food than last year’s inaugural event, organizers said.

The Milton-Freewater Downtown Alliance partners with Broadway Avenue businesses that fund the family-friendly festival running 1-8 p.m. Saturday.

“We felt our first Broadway Block Party last August was a great success, and we are looking forward to seeing it grow this year,” said Norman Saager, owner of Broadway Family Dental Care, in a prepared statement.

Free to the public, the event kicks off in the morning with a 5K Fun Run/Walk at 9 a.m. (Register at

A stretch of Broadway will be closed for the afternoon celebration, which will feature bounce houses, contests for kids, face-painting, a hula hoop competition, a corn-eating contest and a chalk art competition.

Music will be performed by Jojo’s Mojo, Diego & the Detonators and Rogue Lobster. La Familiar, skoSH and Why Not Pizza? food trucks will offer their dishes to purchase, and Watermill Winery and Blue Mountain Cider Co. will present a wine, beer and cider garden for adults with identification.

The event is a way for businesses along Broadway to celebrate and give back to the community and was introduced at a time last year when Milton-Freewater’s longtime community festival had taken some time off, said Alex Hedges, commercial director of Watermill Winery.

The Milton-Freewater Rocks! festival was a rebrand in 2016 of the 35-year run of Muddy Frogwater Country Classic Festival that had taken place each August. The celebration dated back even into the 1960s when it had been the “Pea Festival.” The event kicked off with a community parade and included a Kid Zone, art show, food, live music, a salmon bake, book sale and more.

Volunteer-organized and run, it lost some steam in recent years.

“That went away and we had kind of felt like there was a lack of events for the city in August and wanted to kind of find a way to give back to the community,” Hedges said.

Thus the Broadway Block Party was born.

Another community celebration known as the Harvest Festival has been organized for this month and set, potentially, to succeed Milton-Freewater Rocks!, Hedges said. That event will happen Aug. 17, from 7 a.m.-9 p.m., at Yantis Park, Jennifer Konrad, executive director of the Milton-Freewater Chamber of Commerce, told the Union-Bulletin this week. More information is available on the Chamber’s Facebook page.

If this Harvest Festival does become the city’s new summer event, the Broadway team of businesses and sponsors — which includes Watermill Winery/Blue Mountain Cider Co., US Bank, Les Schwab Tire Center, the Burger Hut, Broadway Fitness Center, Broadway Family Dental Care, the M-F School District, city of Milton-Freewater and the downtown alliance — would entertain moving this event to spread the celebrations, Hedges said.

An estimated 2,500 people turned out for last year’s first Broadway Block Party. That event came also from a serendipitous mashup of individual customer appreciation events put on by businesses that ultimately decided to combine their resources and energy together.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, or on Twitter at

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.