By Laurelle Walsh
Visitors and locals who descend upon Winthrop during this weekend’s festivities should expect minor traffic delays, parking puzzles and a line of cars trying to get through the valley’s only four-way-stop.
At noon on Friday (May 9), the Ride to Rendezvous wagon train will travel the length of Riverside Avenue through downtown. Traffic control is generally not needed during the 20 minutes the horses and wagons are rolling through town, but drivers are advised to use caution, said interim Town Marshal Ken Bajema.
During the big parade on Saturday, drivers who must pass through Winthrop should be aware that Highway 20 — Riverside Avenue — will be closed to traffic between the two bridges from 10:45 a.m. until around 12:30 p.m.
The 14-mile bypass around downtown will be signed, and adds about 25 minutes to any east- or west-bound highway travel. (See map, right, for detailed route information.)
No parking will be allowed on Riverside Avenue from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday (employees included), said Bajema. Parking is available at the Winthrop Barn and library parking lots across the river on the north end of town; uptown in the lot above the Duck Brand or along Castle Avenue; or at the Town Trailhead parking lot, from which a short walk across the Spring Creek Bridge will take you to the festivities.
Public restrooms will be open at the Winthrop Ice Rink near the Town Trailhead parking lot, at the Visitor Information Center, and at the Barn.
Drivers must not block driveway access when parking in residential neighborhoods, Bajema added.
Parade staging will begin uptown along Corral Street between Bluff and Castle at 9 a.m. Participants should check in at the town maintenance shed on the corner of Corral and Bluff streets. The parade route will proceed down Bluff Street, south along Riverside Avenue, and then return to the staging area after the event.
Officers will be directing traffic at the four-way stop for an hour or more after the parade, Bajema said.
Please note that around 600 runners, plus family members and cheer squads, will be participating in the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association’s Sunflower Marathon and Relay on Saturday morning.
The 26-mile run starts at the Mazama Corral trailhead at 8:30 a.m. and heads south on trails above the west side of the valley. A shuttle bus taking racers to the starting line should cut down on traffic to Mazama, although relay team members must be transported to the exchange points in private vehicles. The awards ceremony will take place at the finish line in Twisp at 1:30 p.m.