The Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex (RORC) was filled with people other than construction workers for the first time Sept. 8.
Two annual September events in the city relocated to the grounds for their respective festivities, joining forces during a day that saw an official unveiling to the public of both the brand-new 5-8 grade school campus and the official name of Ridgefield’s West Coast League baseball team.
The rain held off on an overcast day, fortunate for the events that were largely outside. The Ridgefield School District’s annual Experience Ridgefield set up on one of the brand-new turf fields at the RORC, filled with inflatables, games and vendors. Alongside it was Ridgefield Oktoberfest, the more adult-oriented Bavarian-style celebration featuring German food and local beer alongside music and wiener dog races.
RSD Executive Assistant to the Superintendent Bonnie Harris said that over 60 different vendors had participated in Experience Ridgefield. The event was initially founded by a superintendent’s advisory committee made up of students, having its first iteration on the Ridgefield High School field in 2016. Since then the event has fallen under Harris’ coordination though students were still involved with getting Experience Ridgefield running.
Harris said that the district’s different athletic teams participated as volunteers, with the gymnastics team doing demonstrations, the baseball team utilizing a radar gun to gauge pitching speeds and the football team providing muscle for moving in the different tents and other components during setup.
Harris believed that having the event at the RORC highlighted the “wonderful partnership” that the district has with the city and other key players. She said the district had coordinated with Ridgefield Main Street, the organizers of Oktoberfest, making sure none of the offerings were doubled-up. In the past Oktoberfest had kid-friendly activities that were covered by Experience Ridgefield’s usual collection, while for this year that celebration focused on music, food and beer.
Harris, a longtime resident and alumna of the district, said events like Experience Ridgefield made her proud of both what the city was in the past and what it will become in the coming years.
“We just have a wonderful community, and it’s proof right here,” Harris remarked.
The first of the big ceremonies was the ribbon-cutting for the 5-8 grade campus which included the moved View Ridge Middle School as well as the new Sunset Ridge Intermediate School. RSD Superintendent Nathan McCann’s statements mirrored some of Harris’ sentiment on the sense of community bonds that the city has, reasoning that strength led to the approval of capital facilities projects by voters which made the new complex possible.
Ridgefield School District board president Scott Gullickson remarked that the complex was the first new school built since 1976. The capital facilities bond passed in February 2017 with the new school now open roughly a year and a half later.
“There was not another district in the state of Washington that was able to accomplish that,” Gullickson remarked.
Some time after the ribbon cutting the Ridgefield community finally learned of the name of its West Coast League summer baseball team — the Ridgefield Raptors.
“The Raptor represents the heritage of the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge and the birds of prey that can be seen there,” the team’s staff said in a statement.
Raptors general manager Gus Farah announced the news in front of the baseball field that will serve as the team’s park. Though some of the RORC is still under construction, the bright blue and tangerine chairs, done in RHS colors, were filled with people awaiting the news.
After the announcement, attendees packed a merchandise booth, making season ticket deposits and buying hats and shirts emblazoned with the team’s new logos.
West Coast League Commissioner Rob Neyer spoke at the event, commenting on the scenery around the park and thanking Ridgefield officials and the community at large for playing host to its own minor league sports team.
“This is really exciting stuff,” Neyer remarked.