If you aren’t familiar with lentils, they are part of the legume family, which means that they are a seed, pod, and other edible part of a plant used as food. In fact, the lentil is quite a superfood that is especially beneficial to health and well-being. Lentils are also very eco-friendly.
For these reasons, lentils are in demand worldwide, and there was a time when a certain area of eastern Washington and northern Idaho, also known as the Palouse region, was known as the “Lentil Capital of the World.” While that might not be true today, as Lentils are widely grown in Europe, Asia, and North Africa, the Palouse region did grow 98 percent of the U.S. lentils in 1989.
It was during that year that the first National Lentil Festival took place. Since then, it has been considered one of the biggest events to take place in Pullman, Washington, a city steeped in the Palouse Region.
Pullman is best known as the city with Washington State University (WSU), and the National Lentil Festival takes place annually in late August, when the weather is still warm and the new Fall semester for WSU begins. For new freshmen, it is often their first taste of Pullman!
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Serving the Largest Bowl of Lentil Chili
One big event every year is the largest bowl of Lentil Chili, with smaller portions shared with Festival attendees. In 2023, it was a record-breaking year with over 6,000 bowls served! The National Lentil Festival focuses on the local community and local volunteers that make up the Palouse. The actual event takes place in many places in downtown Pullman, Washington. One of the places is Reaney Park, which is one of the larger city parks. National Lentil Festival attendees will encounter several local businesses at individual booths, and there are several places set up for food as well as local microbrewers, wine, and hard cider makers.
Pullman Walk Of Fame
Another big event is the unveiling of the Pullman Walk of Fame. The Walk of Fame was established in 2003 and was made to honor individuals who have served the Pullman community in some significant way, promoted goodwill, improved the quality of life for Pullman residents, or brought acclaim to the area through their contributions.
The Pullman Walk of Fame is most visible at the intersection of Main Street and Kamiaken, and you can see the black tiles on the sidewalk that represent distinguished residents, Pullman mayors, famous sports figures, and WSU Presidents with distinguished members of the WSU Community.
In addition to those highlights, one of the biggest highlights is the Lentil Festival Parade. This happens on Main Street, and there are many things to be seen, including local politicians, local bands, and the WSU sports teams.
The National Lentil Festival is more than just a celebration of a bean. It is a city that comes together to celebrate what makes it great, and there is so much to put on display, showing what makes the city of Pullman a great and fantastic place to live!