JOSEPH — After more than four decades at Wallowa Lake, Oregon’s Alpenfest will have a new home in 2021.
Directors of the Alpenfest decided in November to move the annual event from its prior location to Joseph, and the festival in September 2021 will be at the Harley Tucker Memorial Rodeo Grounds.
According to a press release, “a cascade of incidents” prevented the continuation of the festival at Wallowa Lake, where it has been since 1975.
The festival had taken place at Edelweiss Inn for 43 years, according to the press release, but the building’s owners deemed it to be too dangerous for future public events after the 2018 festival.
The 2019 festival took place in two large tents set up at the Wallowa Lake Marina, a move made in an effort to keep the event at the lake.
But weather, timing, electrical issues, heating and lighting all made the idea of holding the event in a tent untenable, according to Chuck Anderson, festival president and alpenmeister.
The 2020 event was canceled altogether because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Anderson called the move away from the lake a “very reluctant decision.”
“We know that our loyal attendees look forward to the lake environment and some will be disappointed,” he said in the release. “But recent circumstances forced us to make a hard decision, and we trust that Alpenfest will continue to provide a rousing good time.”
The return of the festival in 2021 will bring with it internationally popular polka band Mollie B & SqueezeBox, and Alpenfest regulars Tirolean Dancers, Shelby Imholt, a swiss yodeler, and virtuoso accordionist Alicia Straka. Additionally, Randy and Ashley Thull will provide free polka lessons.
The 2021 event, which will run from Sept. 23-26, features a procession down Enterprise’s Main Street on Thursday, Sept. 23, and “Accordions at Alpenfest” at Terminal Gravity. TG will also be the location of a tradition tapping of the first keg of Alpenfest beer, and the brewery also will provide the bulk of the festival’s brews, according to the release.
Performances will take place Friday and Saturday evening, and Saturday afternoon, and the Alpine Fair will be Friday through Sunday.