Oregon’s Alpenfest has lost the only home it has known: the 97-year-old Edelweiss Inn declared recently as uninhabitable.
“We have loved that old building, but we knew it was just a matter of time before something like this would happen,” said Chuck Anderson, the festival’s president.
The festival plans to go forward in 2019 and hold the event under a 3,200-square-foot tent at Wallowa Lake State Park in September. The nonprofit festival is launching a campaign to pay to rent the tent, a stage, dance floor, heaters, lighting and other necessities, estimated at roughly $15,000 annually, Anderson said.
Anderson said he is working with state parks officials for the necessary permit and applying for financial support from regional foundations and local businesses.
Eventually, Alpenfest directors hope for the festival to be staged permanently at an event center. A 3,800-square-foot structure at the northeast corner of the marina parking lot with views overlooking Wallowa Lake is currently included in the park’s longterm master plan. But that idea awaits architectural concepts, funding and county approval. The process and construction will probably take several years, said Anderson.
The Edelweiss, located next door to and owned by Wallowa Lake Tramway, has a storied history. Before the Tramway acquired it, a series of owners used it as an Elks Lodge clubhouse, a lodge, a dance hall and a roller-skating rink. There are Prohibition-era legends of bootleg liquor and rooms available for more than just dancing.