VANCOUVER, Wash. — The fourth annual Clark County All-Church Picnic wound up not happening last month, and where it might take place next year is unknown at this point.
Despite vigorous efforts by picnic sponsor Detour Ministries as well as top elected officials and others, the National Park Service remained unpersuaded that the Pearson Air Museum at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site was a suitable location again for the scheduled July 29 picnic. So Detour’s leaders announced July 12 that they were “deeply saddened” to cancel the event, which had been months in planning.
“Detour Ministries express their apologies for any inconvenience this has caused others, and want to thank the hundreds of local pastors, churches, ministries and volunteers for their past, present and future support in striving to unify the Body of Christ,” stated the announcement. “They also greatly appreciate those who have written letters. Your support and opinions are welcome on (Detour’s) Facebook page or at email@example.com. The date and location for next year’s All-Church Picnic have not yet been determined.”
The federal agency, which has allowed the event before, contended this year that noise levels and the nature of children’s activities were inappropriate for the historic park. The agency’s new stance was strongly opposed by U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Buetler. U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt and Elson Strahan of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Trust all also argued that the picnic should be allowed to proceed.
Ryan Hurley, president of Detour Ministries, said there was not sufficient time to find another suitable location for the picnic, which last year attracted about 3,000 people.