Music festival planned to honor late mayor

Published 11:55 am Monday, July 11, 2022

A local music festival planned for this fall will honor former Washington Mayor Mac “Bear” Hodges.

Featuring six hours of music at the park bearing his name, the event will raise funds for downtown improvements, including a proposed statue of Hodges, a key figure in Washington’s $3.4 million streetscape project started in 2020. Hodges died from complications of COVID-19 before the project’s completion.

“Mac believed events were a great way to attract tourists to Washington and he was also a big fan of music,” said Virginia Finnerty, who worked alongside Hodges for six years as a member of Washington’s City Council.

Finnerty is helping spearhead the project, which seeks to raise enough funds for a life-size bronze statue of Hodges seated on a Main Street bench in between Copper Canyon Wellness and the Hotel Louise.

“One of Mac’s dreams was to have a life-size bronze statue of George Washington sitting on a bench in the historic downtown area of Washington as a photo attraction,” Finnerty said. “Sadly, we could never garner enough support for that statue.” Finnerty said the project, which she describes as a grassroots initiative, has raised $17,000 in donations from friends, family and local supporters. She said the goal is to reach $45,000 to cover the cost of the statue, shipping and installation costs. “Because he left us early and considering what a champion of Washington Mac was, how much he did for his cherished town and how friendly and beloved he was, it seems fitting to have a statue of Mac to honor his memory. After all, he is our hero.”

The Mac “Bear” Hodges Music Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 24 from 2-8 p.m. at Mac “Bear” Hodges Festival Park. Scheduled acts include Craig Woolard and the Embers, Chuck Phillips Band, Noah Cobb and more. Admission is $20.

The event will feature food trucks and include beer, wine and soft drink sales. No coolers or outside food and drinks will be permitted.

“We plan on continuing this music festival annually, in celebration of life, music and the community,” Finnerty said. “The idea is to first raise the balance needed for the statue and later use the funds to continue improving and maintaining our downtown in his memory.”

Finnerty said the project will be funded entirely by local donations. The only financial involvement from the City of Washington and Washington Harbor District Alliance is for safekeeping of funds, she said.