JOSEPH – When the Joseph Chamber of Commerce heard that Oregon Mountain Cruise was going on hiatus for one year a few months ago, the organization got busy on an event to fill in for the popular car rally.
The result is “Taste of Joseph,” an event that will pack the city’s downtown with activity representing many facets of the community from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 7, providing a showcase for businesses, events, shops, restaurants, exhibits, artists, musicians and more.
While Main Street will stay open to traffic, several side streets will be blocked off for booths and other activities during the day.
“The Taste of Joseph isn’t just food,” said store owner Sandy Warnock, who stepped forward to organize the event. “It’s about everything going on in and around Joseph.”
The annual two-day Wallowa Mountain Quilters Guild quilt show, usually held in conjunction with the car rally, will move from the high school to Joseph Community Center this year to become the “Uptown Quilt Show” to become part of Taste of Joseph (see separate story, page A9).
One of Saturday’s highlights will be a reprisal of the popular “Great Joseph Bank Robbery” re-enactment of the 1896 hold-up that drew big crowds of summer spectators from 1987 to 2000. The re-enactment, using the original script, is scheduled at high noon Saturday on Main Street in front of the Wallowa County Museum, historically the First Bank of Joseph and the site of the 1896 robbery.
Playing the part of the bank robbers will be four working cowboys from Imnaha, Luke Morgan, Eric and Tyler Smith and Tyson McLaughlin, with Aspen Smith portraying the screaming bank teller. Denny Johnson, one of the original re-enactment founders, helped organize the reprisal.
Serving “heritage” homemade pies from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. nearby will be museum board and Friends of the Museum members.
Several local events will be represented at Taste of Joseph including Oregon’s Alpenfest, with bratwurst and polka music, and Eagle Cap Extreme sled dog race, with a booth and sled dog display; and Bronze Blues and Brews with blues music.
The Chief Joseph Days royal court and CJD stage coach will be on hand, and the Eagle Cap Pack Station plans to offer horseback rides on one of the side streets.
Warnock, who owns a 1956 Aloha camp trailer, has organized a display of vintage trailers that will be parked in front of her store, Simply Sandy’s, and visitors will be encouraged to look inside. “It’s all about ‘glamping,’” Warnock said of the current popularity of the old camp trailers.
Erl McLaughlin of Sunrise Iron on Alder Slope, will be displaying a few of the antique tractors from his vast collection, and local saddle maker Ray Wilson plans to demonstrate his craft.
Many downtown businesses plan special activities, including artist demonstrations at some galleries, a fly fishing demo at Joseph Fly Shop, spinning and weaving at the Sheep Shed and much more.
The weekly Joseph Farmers’ Market will be set up in its regular place on the side street next to city hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors to town are also invited to the new World War II exhibit at the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture. Music is scheduled at both places.
While Oregon Mountain Cruise is taking the year off, expect to see at least a few antique cars. Warnock said she has heard that some of the vintage automobile owners who normally attend the car rally are coming to Joseph for the weekend anyway. However, a group of local car enthusiasts canceled a planned display of old autos at Alpine Auto to attend the funeral of veteran car restorer Bud Stangel, 89.
In addition to a concert by pianist Brady Goss on his keyboard in front of the Outlaw Restaurant from 5 to 8 p.m., musicians will be performing a variety of music styles along Main Street all day.
The musical lineup includes: Rene Fleming, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Wallowa County Farmers’ Market; Seth Kinzie with Danny Lawson on baby grand, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Josephy Center; Al Bell and Tyson Samples, 2-3 p.m., in front of Outlaw Restaurant, hosted by Bronze Blues and Brews; and Skyline Band with Henry Kinsley, Tim Kiesecker and Caleb Samples, 3 to 4 p.m., front of WC Marketplace.
While the car rally plans to return to Joseph next June, the Joseph Chamber of Commerce hopes “Taste of Joseph” proves to be a fun-filled substitute for both visitors and local residents.