The fifth-annual Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce “Party at the Tram” welcomed approximately 136 attendees for food, networking and spectacular sun-drenched views June 21.
Local business people rode the gondolas up to the Summit Grill on Mount Howard for what is arguably the social event of the year.
The event is an opportunity for business owners and their employees to enjoy themselves, visit and hear some great music — supplied again this year by the Janis Carper and Carolyn Lochert duo “Jezebel’s Mother.” The money raised through ticket sales is used for marketing the county in the Tri-Cities area of Washington and other locations outside the county.
Wallowa Lake Tramway owners Mike Lockhart and Bill Whittemore host the extravaganza with Terminal Gravity supplying the brews.
After thanking everyone who helped make the event possible, Lockhart, who is also president of the Wallowa Lake Tourism Committee, introduced his new facilities manager and returning “home boy” Perry Batten, and provided an update on extensive plans to refresh and upgrade the mechanics of the tram this year.
“Nobody realizes more than Bill Whittemore and I what impact this tramway has on tourism,” Lockhart said. “We know if we had to replace this tram, the cost would be in the range of $10 million.”
Lockhart also bragged a bit about of how the 7 Wonders Cup Dragon Boat Race and the Dragons in the Wallowas team came about and provided an update. The late August race was conceived as an opportunity to both stretch the tourist season and develop a new event to attract visitors.
“I originally pitched this idea just to see what the interest was,” Lockhart said. “Within a few weeks, we had such a response, and so many people interested in being on the team, I knew both the race and a team were going to be possible.”
The paddling team placed fifth in their division at the Portland Rose Festival races this month, helping put the county on the map for residents of western Oregon, Washington and Vancouver. B.C. Team members additionally used the event to distribute Wallowa County Visitors Guides (with a dragon boat on Wallowa Lake on the cover) and invited other teams to the Wallowa County race.
Nine visiting teams came to the race in 2016 and more have indicated they will come to the Aug. 26-27 event this year, according to Lockhart.
Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce Director Vicki Searles passed the can to raise funds for the “Shake the Lake” fireworks event. Revelers donated $200 toward the $12,000 goal — roughly $5,000 remains to be raised.
Donations can be sent to the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 427, Enterprise, OR 97828 or dropped at the office in the Tomas building, 309 S. River St.
Contributors of $25 or more are entered into a drawing for a one-hour flight over Hells Canyon or the Wallowas with Bill Ables of the Wallowa County Pilots Association.