The origins of the McCleary Bear Festival date back some 55 years or so when the editor of the McCleary Stimulator and his friend and counterpart in Stevenson challenged each other as to whose bears were the tastiest for a barbecue.
Today, the tradition continues with the serving of bear stew in Beerbower Park after a community parade.
The stew is set to be served at 1 p.m., Saturday at the park.
This year’s festival features the theme “Back in the Saddle.”
But the festival starts up on Thursday with a kick-off dinner, dessert auction and royalty coronation at the VFW Hall at 158 Summit Road N. in McCleary. Cost is $10 per person.
On Friday, food and craft vendors set up shop at Beerbower Park in the center of town starting at 3 p.m. A special “kids zone” will be set up, featuring fun with bubbles, according to a schedule of the events.
At 6:30 p.m., the annual “guns and hoses” softball game will occur between law enforcement and local firefighters.
Like last year, a special reptile traveling exhibit will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Beerbower Park and a teen dance has been slated for 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the old Sterling Bank parking lot.
On Saturday, the 55th annual grand parade starts at noon with the stew served right after.
Before that, however, a softball tournament is slated for Beerbower Park at 8 a.m. A fun run will start at 9 a.m. And the car show starts at 10 a.m.
There will also be plenty for the kids with bouncy houses, mobile gaming, bubbles and even pony rides and the kids have their own parade to enjoy.
Music in the park will kick off with a performance from Luke and Isaac Olson, who won the Texaco Country Showdown last year with with their song, “Sunrise.” They perform at 1:30 p.m., followed by the Six Pack Pretty at 5:30 p.m.
On Sunday, activities include a softball tournament, a trout pond, petting zoo and music in the park at 2 p.m., featuring the down home county fiddle and blue grass band.