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Vancouver's Esther Short Park Hosts Concerts, Festivals and More

Esther Short Park in Vancouver, WA
Esther Short Park in Vancouver, WA

Situated in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Esther Short Park has long been known as the place for community gatherings and cultural activities. The park – which was named for one of the city’s early settlers – traces its roots back to the 1850s and is widely regarded as the oldest public park in the state of Washington. Featuring everything from a rose garden and children’s playground to an interactive fountain and one-of-a-kind bell tower, the park covers four square blocks between West Columbia and 8th Street.

“Every summer this park draws thousands who are here to enjoy one of the free concerts put on by the City of Vancouver – including the popular Six to Sunset concert series, which takes place on Thursday nights starting in July,” says Colleen Kawahara, spokesperson for the City of Vancouver. “We also have noon concerts, Movies at Esther Short Park and larger festivals such as the Vancouver Wine and Jazz and Hawaiian festivals.”

The park also plays host to the popular Vancouver Farmers Market each weekend from spring to fall, as well as the annual Community Tree Lighting.

“And when temperatures rise, children – and adults, for that matter – love to frolic in the interactive water feature to cool off,” Kawahara says.

Of course, plenty of visitors simply enjoy strolling the many paved walkways or picnicking in the vast green space. Others choose to explore the park’s bronze sculptures – including “The Pioneer Mother,” which was first unveiled in 1929. Kawahara says the bell tower is a work of art in itself, featuring four five-foot bronze salmon that “leap” off the tower as jets of water spray down the sides.

“A Chinook Indian story is inscribed in the basalt column around the base,” she says. “The bell tower features an animated, three-scene glockenspiel, depicting a Chinook Indian tribal legend, which plays several times throughout the day. The bells ring every hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.”

With its convenient location and picturesque scenery, it’s no surprise that many residents choose to hold weddings, parties and other celebrations at Esther Short Park. The park also welcomes plenty of four-legged visitors – including many at the annual Walk/Run for the Animals, which benefits the Humane Society for Southwest Washington.

“It really is our community’s gathering spot.”

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