Musical performances are a big part of the annual Summit Summer Festival. (File photo provided by Barbara Sobo Gast)

Perched on a branch above the historic Summit Community Center with a line of musical parade participants in the foreground, a black raven with a tiny red heart in its beak serves as the dominant imagery of this year’s T-shirt and poster art for the rural Benton County town’s summer festival.

Earl Newman contributed his artwork again this year to the Summit Summer Festival for marketing materials and the collectable T-shirts. (Artwork by Earl Newman)

It’s the latest work from the artistic talents of 93-year-old Earl Newman, who is considered to be Summit royalty and often referred to affectionately as “the mayor.”

“When I asked Earl about the raven imagery, he said he thinks of the raven as symbolizing adaptability, partnership, guidance and looking forward with love,” said Barbara Sobo Gast, the Summit Summer Festival’s community publicity coordinator. “He said those characteristics represent the foundation blocks of the community, as well as necessities for the changing world.”

Now in its 44th year, the Summit Summer Festival returns Saturday, Aug. 19. Activities get started at noon and will continue until 7 p.m. in and outside of the community center.

Gast describes the event as a “full day of old-time country fun and traditions, crafts, arts, friendship, treats, food and music” that welcomes all ages to the small community, located a little less than 9 miles northwest of Blodgett.

The festival will feature handcrafts, music and food, Gast said, with a lineup of booths offering items that range from recycled yard art, toys and plants to hand-turned wood platters, wrapped jewelry and forged iron work.

The Summit Summer Festival always includes some good watermelon to enjoy. (File photo provided by Barbara Sobo Gast)

Local musicians and performers will be among those taking the stage — blues, bluegrass and group drumming included. Other activities include a watermelon eating contest, Summit’s “home-grown” silent auction, the all-ages marching band and parade, a popular cake and pie auction and a quilt and art exhibit.

T-shirts with Newman’s design will be available until they’re sold out.

As part of the festival each year, the Summit Star Quilters, which have been active since 1972, create a quilt to raffle off to support youth scholarships that are awarded to every graduating high school senior in the community. The quilt will be on display in the Summit Community Center with raffle tickets available on site.

The Summit Summer Festival represents the major fundraiser for the Summit Community Center, which supports annual scholarships, ongoing community projects and local volunteer groups. Proceeds from past festivals were used to make the center handicap-accessible.

Organizers advise folks to bring drinking water. Dogs and alcohol are not permitted.

To find the Summit Summer Festival, take Highway 20 west out of Philomath, take a right onto Summit Highway (U.S. Highway 180) and follow the road to Summit.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.