OK Theatre front EMB

Finishing touches get applied to one of the OK Theatre's refurbished doors in preparation for the 100th anniversary celebration July 12th.

The OK Theatre is a community landmark and known as one of the finest small musical venues in eastern Oregon, if not the entire state. Thanks to the efforts of owner Darrell Brann and his family, who bought the theater five years ago, the theater has hosted a number of landmark concerts in Wallowa County. However, the theater’s biggest landmark is coming up on the weekend of July 12-13. Brann is putting on a 100th anniversary gala at the theater in order to celebrate its century in business.

This isn’t just any run-of-the-mill celebration. National musical acts, a play and a bonanza of food will take place over the weekend. The event is described as a Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras.

The Friday, July 12 opening celebration starts at 5 p.m. and features a virtual smorgasbord of culinary delights that include wares from a number of vendors, capped with an evening play, “How the West was Dun,” featuring players from the Mid-Valley Theater Company and directed by Lisa Closner, who is mother to the nationally known all-female musical trio, Joseph, who has performed at the theater. Closner did a theater camp at the OK last year. While there she mentioned to Brann that she likes to do western melodrama.

“I told her that would be a perfect way to kick off our centennial, to do something like a vaudeville-esque kind of thing with a western theme,” Brann said. “She decided to do “How the West was Dun,” and we decided it would be fun to do a dinner, which I’d been thinking about for a long time.”

The dinner is an all-catered affair that requires a wristband, but patrons will receive a multi-course meal with food provided by such local culinary luminaries as the Carmen Ranch, Backyard Gardens, Vanilla Stag, Mark and Denise Michnick, Jera and Casey of Panini’s Sandwich Shop, Chuckwagon Sisters, and Michelle McDonald. The dinner menu includes Carmen Ranch BBQ Pork, coleslaw, potato salad, fruit salad, baked beans, cornbread, veggie kabobs for a vegetarian option, and green salad with locally grown greens. Brann and some volunteers built 35 picnic tables in a single morning to provide seating for the dinner, which will also include dessert.

Surprisingly, the event is not yet sold out.

“We’re planning for a big crowd, but we still have room at the table for people,” Brann said. The dinner takes place from 5-7 p.m. while the play runs from 7-9 p.m. Tickets for the event are available at eventbrite.com.

The following day’s celebration is a musical extravaganza/street fair that includes food, beer and wine vendors along with two stages manned by a multitude of local and national acts. The event starts at 10 a.m. with reel film showings by Dennis Nyback, a Portland film curator and donuts provided by Vali’s. Also included are multiple showings of the Enterprise seventh-grade film made about the theater.

Music starts at noon with local and regional acts including Casey Kiser and the Jakewalk Saints, Bart Budwig, Kory Quinn and Nevada Sowle and Cooper Trail. Other acts include such luminaries as the Kaleb Clauder Country Band, the Bad Penny Pleasuremakers, Ural Thomas and the Pain and Grammy-winning acts Don Flemons and headliner Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, straight from New Orleans.

Brann spent a lot of work rounding up musical acts for the event, many of the local and regional acts he already had in mind. Flemons, formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, had played locally several times and Brann felt he’d fit the bill perfectly with his turn-of-the-century music style.

“He was like, ‘Hey, sign me up,’ it was really great of him,” Brann said.

Cleary proved more elusive for a time.

“I’ve been trying to get Jon Cleary to play the theater for the last three years,” Brann said. “His schedule is absolutely insane. Once we had Jon and Ural (Thomas), we had a lineup for a street party.”

After all the effort expended on the event, Brann is sure everyone attending either or both of the events are in for a treat.

“It’s going to be a great, fun time,” he said.

The OK Theatre is located at 208 West Main St. in Enterprise. Tickets for the Friday event and family package tickets are $50 and available at eventbrite.com. Tickets for the music event are $25 available at eventbrite.com, the Bookloft and the Dollar Stretcher in Enterprise and Joseph Hardware in Joseph.

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