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Things to Do in Liberty Lake

Photos from Liberty Lake Farmers Market Opening Day 2019

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Photography by Craig Howard

Fishing Liberty Lake is the Reel Deal

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Liberty Lake dock

Every year, many anglers flock to open waters; whether to take in some sun, play on water toys or to enjoy a relaxing day of fishing.

Liberty Lake offers just over 700 acres of fun for all ages. The lake opens for fishing March 1st and remains open through October 31st. March has been notorious for outstanding brown trout fishing just after ice-out, but once the water begins warming up anglers have the opportunity to catch yellow perch, bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, brown bullhead and both large and smallmouth bass.

Each year, during the end of March or the beginning of April, the lake is stocked with fish by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. In early April of this year, the lake was stocked with rainbow trout. It also received several hundred bonus fish that were left over from the fishing ponds at the annual Big Horn Show.

There is currently one public launch and many private or community boat launches around the lake. Staci Lehman, Communications Manager for the Eastern Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) advised that the WDFW will be redeveloping the current boat launch by repaving, repainting lines and replacing broken or missing concrete. “The current two toilets will be replaced with new up-to-code ADA toilets and the floating dock will be bigger. I don’t have an exact date for this to happen and it won’t be this year. We’re looking at sometime within the next couple of years,” states Lehman.

WDFW is encouraging Washington residents to take advantage of free fishing weekend. Beginning on Saturday, June 8, licensing restrictions will be lifted through Sunday June 9. It’s a great opportunity to grab your poles and hook some memories.

Liberty Lake boat lunch

Liberty Lake Summer Festival Lineup Includes Familiar Staples, New Features

in Featured/Parks and Arts/Things to Do in Liberty Lake
Pavillion Park music

Leslie Zilka remembers when the Spokane Symphony made its celebrated premiere at Pavillion Park nearly two decades ago.

Zilka was serving as president of Friends of Pavillion Park (FOPP) at the time, a nonprofit group that has coordinated the community’s popular Summer Festival for the past 22 years. While the local orchestra had appeared at Comstock Park on Spokane’s South Hill for years, bringing brass, wind, string and percussion sections to Liberty Lake’s popular greenspace would prove to be quite the coup.

“The festival was growing but to bring in the symphony made it a bonafide summer event,” said Zilka who served as FOPP president from 2000 through 2001. “It was absolutely fantastic.”

The Labor Day weekend tradition has remained intact ever since. The concert is named after the late Lud Kramer, who served as Washington Secretary of State from 1965 to 1975 and was integral to a number of community causes after moving to Liberty Lake later in life.

Zilka said Kramer was the one who took the initiative to secure the festival’s signature feature.

“It was Lud who pled our case to the symphony,” Zilka said. “I think it cost us $10,000 that first year.”

Over the years, the festival has gained in notoriety while still maintaining its commitment as a free, family-friendly draw. Neighbors whose homes sit near the park joke that they can lounge on their back porch and hear Grammy nominees and winners, live at no cost.

“When we had Robert Cray here a few years ago, I got calls from people who were here from out of town, asking where they could get tickets,” said current FOPP Vice President Dave Himebaugh. “They just couldn’t believe that it was free.”

This year’s Summer Festival kicks off July 3 with a screening of “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” at Pavillon Park, starting at dusk. The night after, The Fourth of July Concert will feature the Big Band sounds of headliner Tuxedo Junction with its moniker borrowed from a Glenn Miller song title. Fireworks sponsored by the city of Liberty Lake will follow the music.

Himebaugh said FOPP “saved some money this year by not going with any national acts.” For years, the Holiday Ball at the Davenport Hotel raised critical funds for the festival. With that event shelved, FOPP has been discussing funding scenarios with the city of Liberty Lake, a sponsor of the festival along with STCU and Liberty Lake Kiwanis.

“The city has been very supportive,” Himebaugh said. “We’re still finalizing the funding for the symphony concert.”

In 2007, FOPP rallied to preserve the festival with no deletions despite cancellation of the Holiday Ball the previous December due to scheduling conflicts at the Davenport. Greenstone Homes and surplus funds in the FOPP coffers saved the day.

Debuting this year will be the Liberty Lake Throw Down, set for Aug. 24 at Orchard Park, a new greenspace in the River District that will open in mid-June. Himebaugh said the tournament – featuring the beanbag toss game of cornhole – will generate funds for the festival and consist of registered teams competing for nearly $1,800 in cash prizes.

For the first time since 2004, the symphony’s performance will not include conductor Eckart Preu, who retired after the most recent season and bid a fond farewell to the Pavillion Park crowd last year.

Other favorites returning this summer include the Liberty Lake Loop run (July 13), Montana Shakespeare in the Park (July 28) and the ever-popular and refreshingly affordable park concessions courtesy of Liberty Lake Kiwanis.

“It takes a lot of work to put this on,” said Himebaugh who has been part FOPP since 2004. “It’s getting up Saturday morning and being there all day – but it’s awesome.”

22nd annual Friends of Pavillion Park Summer Festival Schedule

For more information, visit www.PavillionPark.org.

Latest Version of Liberty Lake Farmers Market Set to Sprout

in Featured/Local Food/Things to Do in Liberty Lake
Liberty Lake Farmers Market

Rain or shine, the 18th annual rendition of the Liberty Lake Farmers Market will roll out this Saturday, complete with new features and a lineup of over 50 vendors.

Longtime market manager, Holli Parker, says the opening of the open-air venue at Town Square Park – 1421 N. Meadowwood Lane – signals the beginning of the warm-weather season for many.

“One of my co-workers said to me the other day, ‘Oh, the market’s starting, that must mean that summer’s here,’” Parker said. “For a lot of people, it’s the sign that the weather’s going to get better.”

The market’s 2019 debut on Saturday, May 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., will include new arrivals selling pies, burgers, pastries, and frozen drinks. Staples like Crepe Café Sisters, Veraci Pizza, and Desserts by Sara will also be part of a vendor array that will number 54 on opening day. Parker said the overall vendor count for the season – which runs through Oct. 12 – stands at 70. The folk stylings of local musician Brad Keeler will also be part of the atmosphere on Saturday.

Market regulars will miss the site of Lenny Munguia’s Jalapeno Heaven truck this year. One of the market’s inaugural vendors from 2002, Munguia has decided to shelf the salsa and burritos for now, although he still serves on the market’s board of directors.

Parker said that while fresh, local produce may not be as abundant early in the season, marketgoers will find plenty of plant and flower starts. There is also a vendor selling “micro-greens,” tasty roughage perfect for healthy salads.

Based on standards established by the Washington State Farmers Market Association, markets throughout the Evergreen state must account for at least half of their sales coming through local farmers. Parker said she and other board members are “observant and thoughtful about who we’re bringing in.”

“We want a good variety,” she said. “We’re not just going to bring in 50 Rice Crispy Treat people.”

Parker can remember the market’s debut on a drizzly Saturday 18 years ago when eight vendors huddled beneath plastic tarps while a paltry crowd wandered by.

“From where we started to where we are now, it’s amazing,” she said. “I’m so proud of this community and these people. I love our vendors and I love our board. We all work so well together.”

Holli’s uncle, Jim Frank and her mother, Susan Parker, first came up with the idea for the Liberty Lake Farmers Market as a way to support local farmers and create a friendly community gathering place. Almost two decades later, those goals and more appear to have been accomplished.

“It’s fun to see it get better every year,” said Frank who is a regular at the market each Saturday. “It is a Liberty Lake institution and really contributes to a strong sense of community.”

Holli said it’s gratifying to see vendors like Veraci’s start from market roots and establish successful brick-and-mortar sites like their restaurant in Kendall Yards. Another recent vendor, Glorious Bakery, found a landing spot over the winter, selling bread and other products at My Fresh Basket.

Market highlights this year include the Italian Festival (July 13), Pie Festival (Aug. 10) and Art at the Market, pared down to one day this September with a date to be announced.

Besides serving as manager in all but two years of the market’s existence, Parker says she relishes the opportunity to shop for groceries, reconnect with old friends and soak up the market’s positive energy.

“I just love going to the market,” she said. “Even though it’s a Saturday, I know I’m not going to sleep in.”

To learn more about the Liberty Lake Farmers Market, visit:

Orchard Park Splash Pad Update

in Featured/Parks and Arts/Things to Do in Liberty Lake
Orchard Park March 2019

Harvest and Indiana SignThe Orchard Park Splash Pad is located just west of Harvest Parkway, between Mission Ave. and Indiana Ave. in the River District of Liberty Lake. It is approximately 90’ in diameter and features multi-colored concrete. It is comprised of numerous water features including a dragonfly, a tree with squirrels, a baby long-legs spider, a 6’ diameter water web, a tree with apples, a water spout, and a dumping water bucket along with other fun features.

Construction began last summer and is expected to be complete and in full operation by mid-June. The Splash Pad is located adjacent to the new playground currently under construction and promises to bring many hours of enjoyment to local families.
 

Splash Pad Rendering

Gluten Free in Liberty Lake

in Featured/Local Food/Things to Do in Liberty Lake
gluten free in Liberty Lake

Learning to eat with dietary restrictions can be very frustrating. It has been almost 6 years since I went 100% gluten and dairy free. Navigating restaurant menus has become much easier and while it is not by choice, it has improved my overall health.

Here is a list of gluten free (GF) and dairy free (DF) menu items I enjoy within Liberty Lake. This is not a complete list of menu items available, just what I prefer to eat.

Barlows Family Restaurant

  • Fish Tacos with no sauce or slaw

Bobby’s Cafe & Catering

  • Have never tried it

Brother’s Office Pizzeria

  • Pizza with gluten free crust and no cheese
  • If you ask nicely, they will make the B-Boos with gluten free dough

Café 19

  • Salad Bar – They have a few gluten free dressings but most are dairy based. I bring my own dressing and this place is perfect.

Carl’s Jr. Green Burrito

  • I don’t eat fast food

Chevron Food Court

  • I don’t eat fast food

Cork House

  • Kale and Quinoa salad
  • Enciladas without the cream sauce
  • Truffle Fries – not listed as GF but have never had a problem
  • Grilled Cauliflower – not listed as GF but have never had a problem
  • Often times the daily special of fish or meat can be prepared GF and DF

Crazy Beagle

  • Coffee – Black

Ding How

  • Moo Goo Gai Pan
  • Mussaman Curry
  • Yellow Curry
  • Pineapple Curry Shrimp

Domino’s Pizza

  • Pizza with gluten free crust and no cheese

Fieldhouse

  • Pizza with gluten free crust and no cheese

Fujiyama

  • Steak with rice and vegetables ordered from kitchen (not teppan)

Hay J’s Bistro

  • Coconut Curry Chicken
  • Grilled Salmon
  • Surf & Turf
  • Vegan Quinoa Bowl

Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches

  • I don’t eat fast food

Just Chillin’ Frozen Yogurt

  • They have a few flavors which are GF and DF

Liberty Lake Coffee Company

  • Have never tried it

Liberty Lake Farmers’ Market

  • Tacos from Jalapeno Jeaven with no cheese

Liberty Lake Juice Company

  • Tried once but wasn’t a fan. They do have many options for GF and DF.

Liberty Lake Wine Cellars

  • Wine

McDonald’s

  • I don’t eat fast food

Palenque Mexican Restaurant

  • Street Tacos and Chips

Papa Murphy’s Take N’ Bake Pizza

  • Pizza with gluten free crust and no cheese

Pawpular Companions

  • GF dog food is available for you or your dog 🙂

Pho Liberty

  • Pho

Piccolo

  • Pizza with gluten free crust and no cheese
  • Brussel Sprouts with no ponzu
  • Roasted Cauliflower

Pizza Hut

  • Have never tried it

R & R Clubhouse Restaurant

  • Have never tried it

Rockin’ B Ranch (Seasonal)

  • Have never tried it

San Francisco Style Sourdough Eatery

  • Didn’t find it good for GF. Just got meat without bread the one time I visited.

Starbucks

  • Not a fan of Starbucks coffee but they do have GF snacks

Subway

  • I don’t eat fast food

Taco Bell

  • I don’t eat fast food

Taco Time

  • I lied. I do eat fast food after too many adult beverages:) Tacos without cheese and mexi fries have been fine for me.

The Well

  • A lot of GF options but not a fan. The snacks are good, but I don’t like the texture as they are wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the fridge so they have condensation on them. I just can’t get past it. Try for yourself as I have heard many good things.

True Legends Grill

  • Ribs
  • Steaks
  • Fries
  • Salmon with no sauces

I feel like I am forgetting some place, but this should help those new to Liberty Lake or new to being gluten free discover some options.
Again, these are just my opinions. Feel free to share your favorite gluten free dishes in Liberty Lake in the comments below.

Note:

Many of these restaurants and dishes are gluten-friendly and not necessarily gluten free. This means they could have gluten present from food prep surfaces, fryer oil, etc. So, be sure to clarify with each restaurant before ordering.

Fujiyama in Liberty Lake (Review)

in Featured/Local Food/Things to Do in Liberty Lake
Fujiyama in Liberty Lake

Residents of Liberty Lake have been waiting a very long time for some choice in dining beside pizza; which currently makes up about 30% of the restaurant options. With fast food accounting for another 30%, Liberty Lake is hungry for something different.

Construction of Fujiyama began over a year ago and the community was excited. “When are they going to open”, was a common question asked in local community forums. Starting to doubt if they would ever open, there was a collective sigh of relief when the banners went up indicating opening day would be Monday, July 9, 2018, at 11:00 am.

Fujiyama labels itself as a Japanese steakhouse and it is, but I would add that it is a teppanyaki-style Japanese steakhouse. Teppanyaki is when the food is prepared in front of the guest by cooking on a solid griddle by a teppan chef.

Ok, enough with the intro and background. What everyone is interested to know is about the menu, service, atmosphere, and food. My wife and I were able to attend the soft opening on Friday and here is what we experienced.

Menu

The menu is similar to most teppan-style restaurants. It consists of the usual choices: vegetables, chicken, steaks, seafood, and rice. Some Japanese steak houses also offer sushi. Fujiyama Liberty Lake does not have a sushi bar. They did have a full-service bar, but I failed to notice the beer, wine, other liquor options.

Next time I run across the management at Fujiyama, I would like to inquire about why they list items on their website menu as “hibachi” when I did not notice a hibachi-style grill. It seems to be all teppan-style. Maybe I am confused about the definition, but here is how I understand it.

The pricing is also consistent with other Japanese steakhouses. If ordering drinks, expect to spend around $50 per person.

Service

We had reservations and were promptly greeted and seated with only a minor wait. The server was friendly and the teppan chef was very entertaining. It was obvious that the servers were still learning the systems and processes, but that is to be expected during a soft opening.

There was some confusion about how to accommodate my crazy food allergies. Our chef, named Crane, quickly recognized that my plate was empty and educated our server on how to proceed.

They all had a great attitude, so I expect they will have it worked out by opening week.

Atmosphere

The restaurant and lounge were comfortable and clean. This is to be expected on the first day. The noise level with a half-full house was also comfortable. Our chef spoke softly and was difficult to hear sometimes, but we might just be getting old. A friend commented that it was a little too bright in the lounge for evening drinks.

It felt as it should; like a Japanese steakhouse.

Food

Let me start with my wife, Cherise, since she is an able-stomached individual. Then, I will discuss from a gastricly-challenge perspective.

Cherise ordered the lobster, scallops, and steak which came with fried rice, vegetables, onion soup, and salad. The soup and salad were served in the traditional small bowl and the dressing was a house ginger. She commented that both were good and the steak cooked to the requested temperature. The portions sizes for the main dish were very generous; compounded by the addition of chicken to the fried rice and a couple pieces of shrimp. It was more than enough food for one. Cherise really enjoyed all parts of the meal; labeling it as “excellent”.

I ordered the filet cooked medium and requested that my meal be prepared gluten-free. The steak also included fried rice, soup, and salad. I was unable to taste the soup as I am allergic to onions and didn’t try the salad since I wasn’t sure if it included dairy. Most likely they would have provided a substitute for me but I didn’t think our server deserved that much abuse on her first day. Next time, I will know to ask for edamame or something like that as a side dish.

When it was time for the main event, where the chef begins cooking the meat and rice I noticed he generously squirted soy sauce (not GF) on all the food. So, as he began serving it around the table I politely declined. After seeing my plate empty for a bit, he instructed the server to have the kitchen prepare my meal.

The steak, shrimp, rice, and vegetables were nicely prepared and presented with quality ingredients. However, I would not label it excellent; as it was a bit bland. It had been prepared without butter, soy sauce, or seasonings. I appreciated the special effort and lower calories but would hope that they offer gluten-free soy sauce in the future or at least salt and pepper. Again, I didn’t ask as I had already been enough of a pain.

There was something else which made the gluten-free version just fair, which was pointed out by a friend after he had finished his dish. The food was a little a sterile. Unfortunately, that is just a side-effect of being a new restaurant. Once they prepare more meals the pans and griddles will get seasoned; adding a depth to the flavor.

How does it compare to Ding How?

People have asked me how the food compares to a local favorite, Ding How.  Answering this question is like asking if The Post or Toy Story is a better movie. Both are movies and both star Tom Hanks, but they are completely different genres with different audiences in mind. They shouldn’t be compared.

Both Ding How and Fujiyama are restaurants in Liberty Lake and serve Japanese dishes. Ding How serves many types of Asian dishes from China, Thailand, and Japan. Fujiyama is a Japanese steakhouse with a completely different menu. They shouldn’t be compared.

Summary

My wife and I enjoyed the teppan experience, the lounge, the food, and the people. We will definitely return. However, we plan to avoid the main dining room, due to my dietary issues, and dine in the lounge; ordering food directly from the kitchen.

We recommend giving it a try and would love to hear what you think.


Fujiyama Japanese Steak House & Bar
Reservations: 509-903-0888
General Website: http://www.fujiyamawa.com
Liberty Lake Location FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/Fujiyama-Japanese-Steak-House-in-Liberty-Lake-360464040985987/
Address: 21801 E Country Vista Dr, Liberty Lake, Washington 99019

Win a $40 Gift Card to Liberty Lake Wine Cellars

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LLWC gift card

What is better than wine?

Free wine.

What do I have to do to be entered in the drawing?

Just complete these two simple steps prior to 03/01/18 and you will be entered:

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The gift card is transferable in the event you wanted to give it to a friend.

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Is there any fine print?

Of course there is.

  • No purchase is necessary to enter.
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  • Drawing will be held on March 1, 2018 at 8:00 AM.
  • Winner will be announced in the Gazette and via email.
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  • Winner to pick up gift certificate at LLWC.
  • Void where prohibited by law.
  • Owners, employees, and family of LLWC and LL Gazette are not eligible.
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