William “Willow Bill” Goulardt is back in town this week to visit St. Helens own Flying Eagle and see that she is ship-shape, and he is inviting the community to get involved.
Down at the waterfront, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 6-14, Gouldart will present “Eagle Fest: St. Helen’s Lewis and Clark living and hands-on educational experience.” Events will be happening every day with opportunities for hands-on activities working on the canoe.
“Just come on down and Willow Bill will put you to work,” Gouldart said.
The point of the week-long endeavor, Gouldart said, is to create community around The Flying Eagle. The canoe was hand-made by citizens of St. Helens and should be preserved by the hands of St. Helens citizens, he said.
Activities locals can take part in will include hand-sanding the canoe, filling cracks, varnishing, and painting.
On Saturday, June 8, Gouldart will host a BBQ on the waterfront where stories will be shared about The Flying Eagle’s creation and past. An exact time is yet to be determined, but the general idea is to “come on down.”
The week will also cover safety and how to best take care of the river. Gouldart hopes to set up a “canoe club” that will continue to care for The Flying Eagle and register paddlers for this year’s paddle down the Columbia River.
Eagle Fest will kick off at the first 13 Nights on the River concert, Thursday, June 6, where Gouldart will honor former St. Helens resident and 27-year Portland detective Ed Clark, who recently passed away.
“He paddled with us on day one. His pug played Seaman. He put 3,300 miles on his vehicle to make sure we got the canoe to the water,” Gouldart said, adding that ‘Captain Clark’ made trips back and forth over the 300-mile trip to deliver paddlers back to St. Helens.
Gouldart said Clark’s wife will be in attendance all the way from Arizona, and he plans to give her a big hug from the canoe crew.
“It’s all about honoring The Flying Eagle and to have some fun in an educational way,” Gouldart said. “I want to be part of a human race that wants to do good things.”
To find Willow Bill and The Flying Eagle to join them in Eagle Fest, head down to the playground beside the Wauna Credit Union Stage and look south.