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Wahl to Wall: Writing, music take the spotlight

Wahl is editor of The Chieftain.

Published on July 17, 2018 2:23PM


Last week was an amazing time of centering on the arts in Wallowa County.

Out at the Wallowa Lake Camp United Methodist, Summer Fishtrap was underway. You could see the writing vibes rising above the trees like campfire smoke as you approached.

This is Fishtrap’s signature event, and more than 130 people came here to be part of the workshops and camaraderie. Writing can be a lonely business, so when authors have a chance to get together with others, they usually relish the situation.

I was able to get to the free evening program Wednesday night and heard Nina McConigley, one of the instructors, read from her story collection, “Cowboys and East Indians.” It was a moving experience.

Her selection, while humorous, was poignant and pointed. You know what they say, “you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family.”

She was born in Singapore and grew up in Wyoming. Hard to imagine a larger separation in cultures. Her work contains echoes of David Sedaris.

It was the perfect night for sitting under a big white tent marginally illuminated with soft yellow light and being transported to another literary world.

I came away with an overwhelming desire to write, went back to the office and began writing this column.

Thursday night, the instructors for the Wallowa Fiddle Tunes Camp going on in Wallowa came into town and performed for the Courthouse Concert Series.

Around 100 students were part of the annual camp, sponsored by Wallowa Valley Music Alliance. If you drove why the Wallowa schools campus and wondered by it looked like Woodstock West, that would be the reason.

As usual, the Thursday concert was a smash. And if you stayed home because you don’t enjoy “hoe-down” music, you would have been surprised at the variety. There truly was something for everyone plus plenty of shade and a nice breeze to keep things comfortable.

I don’t know what they do to the grass on the east side of the courthouse, but it’s like sitting in a lush green carpet.

I was able to catch the Farewell Music and Dance Party Friday morning in Wallowa. Students young and hold had an opportunity show what they had learned, and then it was time to pack up and head home all across the Northwest and beyond.

I heard one young camper argue with her mother for a little more time to stay and enjoy the atmosphere.

“But honey, camp is over,” the mother comforted. There were tears.

What an amazing entré to the stark natural beauty and the warmhearted people for these visitors. None of them could have gone home unstirred, inspired by the handiwork of Mother Nature everywhere they look.

If you didn’t get a chance to participate in either of these events, make yourself a mental note not to miss next year’s performances.

Up next is Tamkaliks Celebration this weekend in Wallowa, and shortly the pièce de résistance for Wallowa County Summer events Chief Joseph Days. We’ll see you there.



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